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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/3/19: Morons, And More.
From:
Jack Marshall -- ProEthics, Ltd. Jack Marshall -- ProEthics, Ltd.
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Alexandria , VA
Thursday, January 03, 2019

 

Good morning!

Still working on the appellee brief in my defense against the frivolous law suit by an angry banned Ethics Alarms commenter whose boo-boo I bruised. How do you write a professional, respectful, effective rebuttal of a 70 page brief that is basically nonsense? I know how to argue against a real good faith legal assertion–indeed, my enjoyment of brief-writing nearly got me stuck in the traditional practice of law. But “this is deranged crap that doesn’t constitute a valid appeal and that wastes the time of everyone involved” isn’t a professional respsonse, just a fair one.

1. “You know…morons!” At least two people—I can’t find the link for the second one, but it was a child—were wounded when spent bullets shot into the air by New Year’s Eve celebrants fell back to earth and hit them. This happens every year. Why do people think shooting guns into the sky is safe? In WW II, my father had to promise a court martial for any soldier under his command who shot a weapon into the air.  This is basic Law of Gravity stuff, but it seems to elude an amazing number of gum owners. I’m only aware of one move that ever featured a death from a falling bullet: “The Mexican,” a failed 2001 Brad Pitt-Julia Roberts comedy.

2. “You know…morons!” (cont.) The Netflix horror hit “The Bird Box,” which involves a blindfolded Sandra Bullock leading her similarly burdened children on an odyssey to escape an apocalyptic threat that only strikes when it is seen, has spawned a web challenge in which people are encouraged to try doing everyday tasks wearing blindfolds. This prompted a warning from Netflix:

“Can’t believe I have to say this, but: PLEASE DO NOT HURT YOURSELVES WITH THIS BIRD BOX CHALLENGE. We don’t know how this started, and we appreciate the love, but Boy and Girl have just one wish for 2019 and it is that you not end up in the hospital due to memes.."

Boy and Girl are what Bullock’s character’s children are called, because she is so certain they are doomed that she doesn’t want to name them. I am tempted to say that anyone so stupid as to try this challenge should not be discouraged, because their demise will only benefit the rest of us. But that would be mean.

True, but mean.

3. Follow-Up…The Federalist has more on the unfolding Steele Dossier scandal. I do not see how any result of the Mueller investigation can hold up in court, no matter how much the mainstream news media spins it, with the degree of procedural irregularity and prosecutor misconduct we already know is behind it. Presumably this is why the focus has shifted to the extremely dubious theory that Trump violated election laws by paying off a sex partner, something he would have probably done whether he was running for office or not, and also a transaction that didn’t involve campaign funds. The media keeps reporting the latter as if it is an unquestioned crime (apparently because Michael Cohen was induced to plead guilty to it), but it just isn’t a crime, and I believe in the end that theory will be thrown out of court too.

4. Signature Significance for a sick culture. Reason reports…

Officials in Hangzhou, China, are cracking down on dogs. Owners have been banned from walking their dogs between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Meanwhile, officials have also issued a list of 34 banned breeds, including German Shepherds, Rottweilers, Pit Bull Terriers and Akitas. Video shows police beating and drowning dogs from those breeds as well as strays that they have caught.

It’s good to recall such reports when someone is arguing that all cultures are equal. Cruelty to animals is considered a reliable marker of sociopathy. Unfortunately, I am again reflecting on the lucrative academic institutional client I lost because I wouldn’t apologize to two Chinese visiting scholars for referring to Mao as a mass murderer. He was just doing what he had to do, I was told.

Stop it, Jack. That way madness lies…

5.  “Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias!” Here is the Huffington Post headline, featured by AOL: “Rudy Giuliani roasted over bonkers late-night Twitter rant about witches.”

Now here is Rudy’s tweet:

“According to CNN witches favor Democrats and they are offended that the Meuller investigation is described as a Witch Hunt. There is no reason for the witches to be offended because Witch Hunt derives from,for example,the Salem Witch Hunts where people were executed unjustly.”

  • It is obviously not a “rant.” This is classic fake news headline writing at Huffpo.
  • The statement that “witches favor Democrats” is not an unreasonable conclusion from news items like this one.
  • The point that “witch hunt” is a historical allusion and not a derogatory reference to witches has been made many times, for decades. There is nothing “bonkers” about it.

So how does this qualify as a “bonkers rant’? It’s a member of the Trump administration writing it, that’s all.

6. “How to act like an Ethics Hero and still be unethical,” by Jill Abramson. Howard Kurtz writes,

“Jill Abramson, the veteran journalist who led the newspaper from 2011 to 2014, says the Times has a financial incentive to bash the president and that the imbalance is helping to erode its credibility….Abramson describes a generational split at the Times, with younger staffers, many of them in digital jobs, favoring an unrestrained assault on the presidency. ‘The more “woke” staff thought that urgent times called for urgent measures; the dangers of Trump’s presidency obviated the old standards,’ she writes [in her forthcoming book ‘Merchants of Truth’]. … the former editor acknowledges a ‘Trump bump’ that saw digital subscriptions during his first six months in office jump by 600,000, to more than 2 million. ‘Given its mostly liberal audience, there was an implicit financial reward for the Times in running lots of Trump stories, almost all of them negative: they drove big traffic numbers and, despite the blip of cancellations after the election, inflated subscription orders to levels no one anticipated.'”

I’ve been hoping and praying for a respected and important journalist from the Left to acknowledge the dangerous deterioration of American journalism as it embraces full partisan and ideological bias, but Abramson isn’t it. First of all, this stinks of sour grapes: she was fired as the Times editor in favor of its current leader, Dean Baquet. Her tenure covered most of the Obama years, when the Times chose to fawn rather than report, burying unfavorable news about the President of whom its editor later said that she carried a little Obama doll with her to gaze at when she got depressed. It’s betrayal of journalistic objectivity, accuracy and trustworthiness can hardly be blamed on Baquet—bolstering Obama and undermining Trump are two sides of the same counterfeit coin. And, of course, she is trying to sell a book.

 
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