If there is any American whose birthday should be a national holiday, it is George Washington, born this day in 1732 in Westmoreland County, Virginia, the first of six children of Augustine and Mary Ball Washington. If I have to tell you the reasons he was “the essential man” in American history, well, I guess you’re the product of our current public school system, a recent college graduate, a Democrat, a Black Lives Matter enthusiast, or something. There is no rational excuse for every American, yes, even African-Americans, to not be grateful for this day. Martin Luther King is now the only individual to have a national holiday dedicated to his honor, while Washington’s memory was dumped into a hodge-podge of lesser figures including Franklin Pierce, William Henry Harrison and now, Donald Trump. King is worthy of his day, but to honor King over Washington is as good an example of “putting the cart before the horse” as one could find. Shame on us. True, George is not lacking honors, with the capital city named for him, a towering monument, cities and towns in many states, Mt. Rushmore, and his image on both the most-used bill and coin. Nonetheless he earned all of it, and this date should be a holiday.
On The Ethics Alarms home page, you will see to your right a link to the list of ethical habits some historians believe made Washington the remarkably trustworthy and ethical man he was, ultimately leading his fellow Founders to choose him, and not one the many more brilliant, learned and accomplished among them, to take on the crucial challenge of creating the American Presidency. Directed to do so by his father, young Washington copied out by hand and committed to memory a list called “110 Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation.” It was based on a document compiled by French Jesuits in 1595; neither the authors nor the English translator and adapter are known today. The elder Washington was following the teachings of Aristotle—another Dead White Man whom most Americans alive today couldn’t tell you Jack S-word about— who held that principles and values began as being externally imposed by authority (morals) and eventually became internalized as character. As I wrote when I first posted them here,
The theory certainly worked with George Washington. Those ethics alarms installed by his father stayed in working order throughout his life. It was said that Washington was known to quote the rules when appropriate, and never forgot them. They did not teach him to be a gifted leader he became, but they helped to make him a trustworthy one.
Would that readers would access that list more often. And politicians. And lawyers. And educators…
1. How ignorant and ungrateful? THIS ignorant and ungrateful…
YouTube announces that it is “supporting the 2020 U.S. election”:
Yesterday was the safe harbor deadline for the U.S. Presidential election and enough states have certified their election results to determine a President-elect. Given that, we will start removing any piece of content uploaded today (or anytime after) that misleads people by alleging that widespread fraud or errors changed the outcome of the 2020 U.S. Presidential election, in line with our approach towards historical U.S. Presidential elections. For example, we will remove videos claiming that a Presidential candidate won the election due to widespread software glitches or counting errors. We will begin enforcing this policy today, and will ramp up in the weeks to come.
What does the “safe harbor” date have to do with justifying YouTube’s censorship? There are live lawsuits and investigations underway. Who or what is YouTube to decide when an election is fair, legitimate, or settled? If YouTube is so concerned about not undermining public faith in U.S. elections, why is this video still available, among many others? For that matter, why is YouTube still hosting 9-11 conspiracy videos, like this one?
Not only is YouTube’s nakedly partisan censorship not “supporting” the election, it is undermining the reason for the elections, which is continuing American democracy. What this looks like is an effort to shut down dissent and prevent lingering questions about matters of legitimate disputes and suspicion, and even if they are not legitimate, YouTube, aka Google, should not be the arbiter of the matter, or any matter?
What happened to “Democracy Dies in Darkness”? Why aren’t citizens of all partisan leanings alarmed at the increasingly shameless efforts by the news media, Big Tech and social media to sanctify Joe Biden’s election in an exact reversal of how President Trump’s election was undermined from election night 2016 all the way to this moment?
Meanwhile, Ethics Alarms is dependent on YouTube, especially since WordPress, despite adding a video “block,” doesn’t make it easy for me to embed videos from other sources. I’d like to stop using this openly biased, pro-totalitarian, hypocritical, double-talking ally of single-party rule.
This is a ruthless, dangerous, unethical, Machiavellian company with far too much power to abuse.
Fontrell Baines, 31, a rapper who goes by the stage name of “Nuke Bizzle,” was arrested on three felony counts of access device fraud, aggravated identity theft and interstate transportation of stolen property, thus facing up to 22 years in federal prison. It’s not just that the evidence shows that Baines and his co-conspirators fraudulently obtained at least 92 debit cards pre-loaded with more than $1.2 million on them and converted the cards into more than $700,000 of ill-gotten gains. The rapper was caught after he posted a music video about the scheme on YouTube, leading to his arrest last month while he had multiple debit cards in his possession with the names of people who weren’t him.. The catchy rap song, in which he boasts about getting “rich off of EDD, amassed more than 400,000 views and also alerted authorities to his scheme.
“Unemployment so sweet,” Baines raps. “We had 1.5 land this week!” A cohort on the video joins in, “You gotta sell cocaine, I can just file a claim!”
Prosecutors say the stolen cards were sent to addresses in Beverly Hills and the Koreatown neighborhood of Los Angeles, where “Nuke” could get grab them. For inspiration….
Here’s a another one: What the hell am I doing wrong?
Myka Stauffer is a so-called “online influencer,” meaning that she has such a huge following on social media that companies pay her to promote their products. Apparently being a social influencer has nothing to do with being smart, wise, ethical or a benefit to society. We know that because such wastes of DNA like the Kardashians are paid influencers—imagine making life decisions based on the recommendations of Kyie Jenner—but at least they have a TV show and have also demonstrated the ability to become rich with no discernible talent whatsoever. That’s something, at least.
Stauffer is a much bigger mystery. I read a profile of her, and am still flummoxed. She has around 700,000 YouTube followers and 200,000 Instagram followers because…why? Her mother had her when she was 16. “I got to go to some really cool parties [and] I got to go to a bunch of concerts, which is a perk of having younger parents,” she says. Otherwise her childhood was “basic, regular,” and she loved everything about it until her mom told her that her dad was not her biological father. “The next day I lost my virginity. I had planned to save myself for marriage. It wasn’t even a question in my mind,” says Stauffer. “When my identity was flipped upside down, everything went out the window.” Then she was grounded for an entire year as punishment, which gave her “lot of opportunity for self-growth.” Then Stauffer found religion…oh, never mind, you can read the whole banal story here if your sock drawer is in order. Her second husband is a car detailer, and she’s a vegan. And an inexplicably large, gullible audience of infantilized women with empty lives and the brain pans of grackles look to her for guidance about what to wear and buy.
This is the quality of character they now know they can expect: After documenting on YouTube and Instagram her successful efforts to adopt an autistic little boy, she and her husband decided to “rehome” him, using the term typically reserved for rotten pet owners who decide to get rid of a dog or cat. It’s a euphemism, of course. What she is doing is giving away her son, because he’s just too much darn trouble if you’re going to get all those Instagram posts and videos out. Continue reading
1. Here’s an ethics quote I need to use more often…I was watching the 1941 film “The Devil and Daniel Webster,” about a jury trial to determine whether the Devil will get a farmer’s soul as contracted. It reminded me of a quote by Kurt Vonnegut: “A soul is the part of you that let’s you know when your brain isn’t working properly.”
A better definition of an ethics alarm you could not devise.
2. So where were the souls of the judges who voted for this? Thousands of prisoners have been released from incarceration to protect them from the outbreak of the Wuhan virus inside jails and prisons. The theory is that subjecting prisoners to this special peril is cruel and unusual punishment. The theory’s not wrong, but it’s a bit unbalanced. Their peril is not entirely society’s fault, after all.
There are activists at the extreme end of the progressive spectrum —a division getting larger all the time, it seems—who seem to want to eliminate penal punishment completely. Not letting a crisis go to waste, a group of them , Columbia Legal Services, began pushing for inmates over 50 years old in Washington state to be released as a compassionate act to save them from the virus.
Among the intended beneficiaries: Gary Ridgeway, the Green River Killer, and Isaac Zamora, serving a life sentence for going on a shooting rampage and killing six people. Ridgeway is one of the nation’s most frightening serial killers, eventually confessing to 71 murders. Over the three decades of the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s, Ridgeway captured women and girls, raped them, and strangled them. He loved watching the life go out of their eyes as they died by his hand, though sometimes he used a rope. Then he would pose with the corpses. If he really liked his victim, he’d have post mortem sex with her body. His first victims were found in the Green River, giving him a catchy name.
Ridgeway was sentenced to 500 years in prison with no possibility of parole. The victim’s families were promised that he would never be released. Ah, but poor Gary is 71 now, and thus at risk of succumbing to the pandemic, and presumed to be too feeble to be a threat. That, at least, is what Columbia Legal Services argued. (You know, I’m not much younger than Ridgeway, and I’m pretty certain I could murder someone. In fact, I’m getting ideas…)
Q13 News reported that prosecutors protested that “the Petitioners [Columbia Legal Services] demand that 2/3 of the prison population be released into the community, a number which includes serial killers and capital murderers.” You would think that their argument would be a slam dunk. You would be wrong. Continue reading
The video above was released by the Trump campaign, and tweeted out by the President. It made effective, if predictable, use of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s inexcusable stunt of symbolically ripping up the President’s State of the Union text at the conclusion of his address.
Immediately upon the ad’s release, the Speaker’s office demanded that Twitter and Facebook take it down. Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff, Drew Hammill, tweeted, “The latest fake video of Speaker Pelosi is deliberately designed to mislead and lie to the American people, and every day that these platforms refuse to take it down is another reminder that they care more about their shareholders’ interests than the public’s interests.” But a Facebook spokesman replied on Twitter, “Sorry, are you suggesting the President didn’t make those remarks and the Speaker didn’t rip the speech?”
Hammill indignantly responded, “What planet are you living on? This is deceptively altered. Take it down.” Facebook would not. “I can confirm for you that the video doesn’t violate our policies,” said representative Andy Stone, pointing out that what Facebook called “unacceptable altered video” were those edited to make it appear that a person said something they didn’t say, or did something they didn’t do.
Ugh. The video was edited to make it appear ( though not fooling anyone with an IQ above freezing) that Pelosi ripped up the speech while the President’s various human interest salutes were unfolding. That’s something she didn’t do. Continue reading
A grateful pointer to Althouse for finding this photo, which raises automatic ethics questions. I am viscerally opposed to putting sweater, clothes and costumes on dogs, in part because all of our dogs have hated it, and one, our feisty Jack Russell Dickens, would twist himself like a contortionist to get out of any garb, whereupon he would rip it to shreds. Several of her commenters make a great point, however: it is unethical to force dogs bred for warm and dry climates to live in wet, cold ones. I have dog-lover friends who insist that dogs are humiliated by being dressed up, like Ralphie in his bunny pajamas. That, I think, is a stretch.
1. Don’t blame Disney. Emerson Elementary School in Berkeley, California decided to raise money for the PTA by selling tickets to a screening of The Lion King. CNN explains,
“One of the dads bought the movie at Best Buy,” PTA president David Rose told CNN. “He owned it. We literally had no idea we were breaking any rules.” While the school doesn’t know how exactly the company discovered the movie was played, Rose said the school’s PTA will “somewhat begrudgingly” cover the cost of the screening. An email sent to the school by Movie Licensing USA informed Emerson faculty that the company had “received an alert” that “The Lion King” was screened during an event on November 15. Movie Licensing USA manages licensing for Disney and other major studios. And since the school does not have a license with the company, it’s been asked to pay $250 for the screening — and $250 per showing of the movie at any future events at the school.”
What? “Somewhat grudgingly”? They had “no idea” charging for tickets to see copyrighted material broke any rules? Those rules are well-displayed on any DVD, and any duty of reasonable intelligence should be able to figure out what’s illegal about doing what they did. There weren’t any lawyers among the organizers and attendees?
In its story about this episode, Boing Boing, an entertaining site with an annoyingly “woke” staff, implies that Disney is being an greedy old meanie, and that the PTA was an innocent victim of another evil corporation. Wrong, and stupid. If companies don’t protect their copyrights and trademarks, they can lose them. Disney has been overzealous in this area, but not on this occasion.
As if anyone needs “warm-ups” in August…
1. Here’s how you know a political candidate is an untrustworthy weasel: he places the official United States Marine Corps emblem on his campaign material. That would be Rep. Duncan Hunter, a Republican who has represented a conservative district near San Diego since 2009. This month, Hunter received a letter from the Marine Corps —that also had the official Marine emblem on it, but legitimately, unlike Duncan’s mailers—telling him he did not have permission to use the symbol and demanding that he stop immediately. The letter suggested that Mr. Hunter use an approved “Marine Veteran” emblem instead.
The man’s a long-time member of Congress, and he doesn’t know the basic fact that using any organization’s official emblem, logo or letterhead for an unrelated communication dishonestly suggests that that a communication has been endorsed by the organization? This isn’t an accident. This is misappropriation and intentional deception.
Or stupidity, of course. Any of the three ought to disqualify Hunter for Congress.
2. Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias! Part I. I no longer am going to be nice when someone tells me that liberal mainstream media bias is a myth, or that they aren’t routine purveyors of “fake news.”
On Monday, as President Trump signed the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund extension, he mentioned being at Ground Zero after the 9/11 terror attacks, saying, “I was down there [at Ground Zero] also, but I’m not considering myself a first responder, but I was down there. I spent a lot of time down there with you.” Immediately, members the media elite already working over-time to help Democrats defeat him accused the President of lying.
Kyle Griffin, a producer at MSNBC, claimed there was no evidence Trump was ever at Ground Zero after 9/11. Then CNN’s Chris Cillizza, a progressive hack since his days at the Washington Post, described the statement as the President being “Walter Mitty,” the James Thurber character who imagined himself doing things he couldn’t and didn’t. “Business Insider”ran the headline, “Trump said he was ‘down there’ at Ground Zero after the 9/11 attacks, but there’s no evidence he was ever closer than a few blocks away.” The New York Times cited a retired NYFD deputy chief who said Trump was never at Ground Zero, because, apparently, he sees all and knows all.
It didn’t take long for someone to track down an NBC video of Trump being interviewed at Ground Zero soon after the attacks, whereupon social media’s anti-Trump hoard shifted gears and claimed that the President had said he was literally in among the rescuers at the disaster site. Yet the video is slam-dunk proof that he was closer than “a few blocks away,” and by any reasonable interpretation, was “at Ground Zero.”
This is a disease. Continue reading
Well, I can’t complain too much; it’s been a while since a news story propelled my brains through my skull to the ceiling. However, the trigger this time demonstrates that several developments are even worse than I thought—or believed they would get—such as…
- The Left’s embrace of historical airbrushing and censorship as part of its strategy of controlling thought and knowledge.
- Social media’s meat-axe approach to policing online content.
- The perilous state of the First Amendment as both the Left and its allied media seek to control art as well as speech.
YouTube released new policies regarding “hate speech” yesterday to “reduce more hateful and supremacist content from YouTube.” Since the new policies almost immediately resulted in the removal of Leni Riefenstahl’s 1935 Nazi propaganda epic “Triumph of the Will,” I can confidently conclude the the policies are far too broad, and also that those executing them have the perspective of the average person who has grown up in a cave, and the judgment of the PTA scold who wants to ban “Huckleberry Finn.” Continue reading