What has he, what has he, what has he done to deserve this? PLENTY.
We have a few updates for you on the self-immolation of "Dilbert" cartoonist Scott Adams and his career, following his deranged racist rant in which he pretended to be outraged, simply outraged, that many Black people responded to a race-baiting Rasmussen poll by saying, no, they couldn't really sign on to the white-supremacist troll slogan "It's OK to be white." Yr Wonkette's Robyn Pennacchia thoroughly discussed the whole sordid trolling campaign when it first arose back in 2017, so we won't get into the details here — or too too many details on the self-immolation, since Robyn already did that too.
In a long dumb rant, Adams said he was tired of having spent his entire career "helping" Black people — not that he ever had — and offered some sage advice to white people:
Based on the current way things are going, the best advice I would give to white people is to get the hell away from Black people. Just get the fuck away. Wherever you have to go, just get away. Because there’s no fixing this. This can’t be fixed. [...] So I’m going to back off on being helpful to Black America because it doesn’t seem like it pays off. Like I’ve been doing it all my life and the only outcome is I get called a racist.
Adams then went on to explain he'd been motivated not by hatred or racism, but out of concern that white people would be falsely accused of being racist. The best way to avoid such false accusations is for white people to never be around Black people, just like Mike Pence has avoided accusations of sexual harassment by never being around any woman alone other than his wife.
Mind you, Adams managed to say all that nonsense on video, all alone, with no Black people onscreen, and everyone instantly saw that he was a raving racist loony, never mind his weird Mike Pence excuse. We bet a far better way to avoid being called a racist is to do your best not to be one.
In the days since, newspapers and entire newspaper chains have dropped "Dilbert" from their comics pages, and today, Andrews McMeel Universal, the comics syndication giant that distributes Dilbert, publishes the Dilbert books, and licenses Dilbert merch, tersely announced it was cutting ties with Adams, too.
Andrews McMeel Universal is severing our relationship with Dilbert creator Scott Adams. The process of this termination will extend to all areas of our business with Adams and the Dilbert comic strip.
As a media and communications company, AMU values free speech. We are proud to promote and share many different voices and perspectives. But we will never support any commentary rooted in discrimination or hate. Recent comments by Scott Adams regarding race and race relations do not align with our core values as a company.
Our creator-first approach is foundational to AMU, and we deeply value our relationships with our creators. However, in the case with Adams, our vision and principles are not compatible.
Losing all but a few newspapers that carried "Dilbert" was a big hit to Adams's income, but this move really nukes him going forward. Try not to cry too hard for him, though, since he's still worth tens of millions of dollars, and now he will have to rely on individual subscriptions from the alt-right trolls he's allied with for years. We haven't seen any details on what the syndicate plans to do with unsold inventory of its Dilbert books and merch; perhaps it could be shredded and put to a useful purpose like cat litter.
Not surprisingly, Adams is insisting that people are being incredibly unfair to him, because he never said he hates Black people, he just thinks they can't be trusted not to falsely call him a racist, which he says he isn't. And in fact, he insists, nobody actually disagrees with him, at least among those who know what he actually meant.
Also, he's decided that his real problem is white people, because it wasn't Black people who cancelled him simply for saying a true thing that nobody disagrees with:
\u201cI've lost three careers to direct racism so far. Crocker Bank, Pacific Bell, and cartooning.\n\nAll three were perpetrated by White people for their own gain.\n\nNo Black person has ever discriminated against me. That's partly why I identified as Black for several years.\u201d— Scott Adams (@Scott Adams) 1677501662
I've lost three careers to direct racism so far. Crocker Bank, Pacific Bell, and cartooning.
All three were perpetrated by White people for their own gain.
No Black person has ever discriminated against me. That's partly why I identified as Black for several years.
He added that he also believes "White people in the media are also the main source of worsening race relations."
The poor thing, it is all very sad. But at least he can thank structural racism for the fact that apparently no Black media executives have been in positions where they could fire his racist ass, so really, we have to agree he's right, don't we?
Oh, the fuck we do. If only he truly were cancelled. At this rate, his presidential campaign is probably already in the planning stages.
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These people suck.
This may come as a shock to many, but the internet is full of trolling, sarcasm, parody, and fake news — some of it funny, like the Onion, some of it painful and belabored, like 90 percent of the Babylon Bee (about 10 percent of its content, about the foibles of church boards and doctrinal disputes, used to be really funny: "Calvinist Dog Corrects Owner: ‘No One Is A Good Boy’").
Being able to recognize parody and sarcasm requires a bit of mental effort, and even a fairly sophisticated reader will sometimes miss a joke, which is why we have Poe's Law in the first place. But sometimes, it's a wonder that people who should know better miss all the cues that someone's pulling their leg, and that can be hilarious all on its own. Hello, sophisticated culture snot Andrew Sullivan this week!
In a now-deleted tweet, Sullivan appeared to fall for a really dopey, tendentious rightwing "comedy" video making fun of all those crazy woke educators who force critical race theory on the kids. The creator of the video, Kali Fontanilla, is a former public school ESL teacher who claimed in a PragerU video last year that she had to leave public education because she just couldn't stand all the woke indoctrination and communism anymore, so she's started her own company, "Exodus Institute" (get it? It's for parents escaping the Government schools, just like Moses freed his people!) to provide instructional content to homeschooling parents. You can sign up for either a full K-12 curriculum, or for "enrichment" content to supplement your own homeschool lessons.
Fontanilla also posts fun parody TikTok videos in which she pretends to be "Miss Luna, activist teacher" (you know, like lunatic haha) the wokest woke teacher ever. She wears a mask that says "Black Educators Matter," which she said in her PragerU video had been an unwanted gift from her last school principal, and an emblem of the Left's obsession with race. Pfft, as if anyone wears masks anymore!
Here's the video Sullivan approvingly retweeted, in which Fontanilla claims to have started a "communist lunch program" in her fourth grade class, to impose "equity." She says that all her "white privilege kids" have better lunches than her "BIPOC kids," so to be fair, she has all the kids put their lunch items in a basket, and she redistributes the items to all the kids. (None of the imaginary children goes into anaphylactic shock from an imaginary classmate's peanut butter, thankfully.)
\u201cI started a COMMUNIST style lunch distribution in my 4th GRADE CLASS! It\u2019s going great! #Communism #capitalismsucks\u201d— Kali Fontanilla (@Kali Fontanilla) 1676475204
Get ready for the big punchline! "Miss Luna" says that "this one white privilege student" always complains that "he's getting the hummus and carrot sticks" while the "BIPOC kids are getting the six-pack of Oreos, and I tell him, 'You know, even though I am doing my best to make this equitable, we also have to make up for 300 years of oppression.'"
That's it. That's the joke.
Andrew Sullivan tweeted that he thought it was very, very telling! Although he later deleted his tweet, at least we have a screenshot:
I'm afraid this isn't fake. But it's the most honest explanation of "equity" I've yet heard. Redistribution pudding followed by a topping of racial revenge.
Honestly, we aren't entirely sure Sullivan fell for it, because his phrasing is ambiguous: "I'm afraid this isn't fake. But..." Perhaps he meant to say it wasn't real, but that the logic nonetheless is indisputable, because here is a fake thing that's exactly like what's happening with all this diversity and stuff.
Or maybe he thought he'd stumbled on to a very real confession by one of those radical socialist teachers who are out to punish all white students, a thing he knows to be true even if this video is fake. Sullivan deleted his retweet and hasn't said anything about it since. He's been very busy excoriating LGBTQ groups like the Human Rights Campaign, because they've criticized the New York Times's coverage of trans people. The HRC and other critics, Sullivan insists, are "betraying the gay rights movement's longtime support of a robust free press" and are actually "hostile to a free society," so please stop donating to them immediately if you love freedom.
So honestly, maybe he did think the parody was real. The less time we spend trying to figure out what's going on in Andrew Sullivan's head, the better, the end.
Yr Wonkette is funded entirely by reader donations. If you can, please give $5 or $10 monthly so we can keep you up to date on what's real, what's fake, and what's just Andrew Sullivan bloviating.
For starters, we never said that. But do go on.
We sure had a lot of fun Tuesday writing about Ben Shapiro's Wet Ass Racist Trolley Problem, in which the esteemed Daily Whiner founder expressed shock and horror at the fact that the ChatGPT language learning AI chatbot refused to agree that it would be perfectly OK to say even the most offensive racist slurs under certain conditions — like if a nuclear bomb were about to go off, and the only way to disarm it were to say the N-word. ChatGPT made the obviously weird reply that because racist slurs are always harmfu,l no scenario could make them acceptable, ever.
Look, just go read the post. The whole thing is ridiculous, the result of a rightwing reporter's quest to find "wokeness" where there is none.
As we noted, ChatGPT isn't thinking, it's just doing math, and it's not designed to do ethics so much as to spit out fairly human-sounding text, based on its having sifted through tons of human writing. The AI doesn't "know" anything and isn't designed to weigh moral anythings — it's designed to predict text that sounds mostly natural, if bland. It's sometimes so good at doing that that people think it's actually communicating. It isn't, and as we've said, people shouldn't anthropomorphize computers anyway. They don't like it
But clearly the developers built in safeguards against using or even "speaking well" of racist language for one simple reason: multiple other AI chatbots have been manipulated by trolls into spewing nothing but racist invective, and OpenAI, the software's owners, wanted a chatbot that could actually stay online and keep working. That wouldn't happen if it were turned to the dark side. The proscription against racist slurs had nothing to do with "wokeness," and everything to do with the good old amoral profit motive.
In any case, a reader we'll call "Patrick" (because that's his name) took issue with my comparison of the Say the N-word or everyone dies scenario to the classic Trolley Problem thought experiment, even though that's exactly what it was and Ben Shapiro has taken to following trolleys around in the hope that he can save some lives by shouting racial slurs.
Maybe it was my fault? I had described the Trolley Problem thusly:
Are you morally justified to do an evil thing (throw a switch and kill one person) in order to prevent a worse outcome that would result from inaction (let the trolley roll over five people)?
I think I got that about right, although maybe "evil" isn't quite the right word? Or maybe it is.
In a now-deleted reply to Wonkette's Facebook post about the story, Patrick complained that if anyone was an idiot, it wasn't Ben Shapiro, it was me, because look at what a stupid thing I wrote:
Throwing a switch that kills one person to save five people is equivalent to uttering a racial slur that kills no one and saves millions? PhD in Rhetoric? [eyeroll emoji] Maybe get a refund. You did manage to illustrate the key issue—the moral equivalency that isn't, but should be—according to your emotional illogic.
We're not sure if Patrick is just unfamiliar with the Trolley Problem, or if he thinks it only applies to literal life-or-death hypothetical situations, but not to racial-slur-or-mass-death hypothetical situations. As far as we know, mentioning a Trolley Problem as an analogy isn't quite the same as doing algebra: the terms really don't have to be equivalent in moral weight, right?
If any philosophy profs — or members of "The Good Place" writers room — care to comment, I'd love to hear from you.
I also dearly love the jab at my bio, because Patrick is so absolutely certain I've actually compared saying the N-word to murder. Well if that doesn't prove that college is a waste of time and academics are all woke fools, then what does? Not that I wouldn't seek a refund if it were possible; it might help with my student loans.
That said, I have no idea how to translate "You did manage to illustrate the key issue—the moral equivalency that isn't, but should be—according to your emotional illogic."
I think he's calling me a sissy.
I replied to Patrick, although my reply went away with his comment (Rebecca isn't sure whether she might have deleted it herself). Thank goodness for screenshots!
You know that the Trolley Problem is also not real, right? Neither scenario is a real thing. But just to be clear, before you write it up for the Daily Wire, no, I do not believe that a racial slur is is equivalent to killing someone. There's no trolley, no nuclear weapon, no switch.
Unfortunately, I didn't get a screenshot of his reply back. As I recall, he said that yes, he knows what a hypothetical scenario is, but why did I try to drag Ben Shapiro? After all, I really should have criticized the moral absurdity of programming an AI chatbot to judge racial slurs as a worse offense than allowing a nuclear weapon to kill millions.
Oh look, we're right back where the whole stupid exercise started. The trolley is running on a circular track, and the real moral outrage is that a tech company won't let its chatbot be taken over by racist trolls who long to see the N-word on a computer screen, if only because it might save millions of lives, the end.
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Oh shoot, somebody already did that one.
The internet may have been a bad idea.
Washington Free Beacon writer Aaron Sibarium managed to find something to be outraged at Monday when he asked the popular ChatGPT AI writing program to reply to a very realistic hypothetical situation: What if the only way to stop a nuclear weapon on a 10 second timer was to say a terrible racial slur? Say the N-word and the bomb deactivates. Don't say it, and you and several million people die.
It's simply yet another variation on the old Trolley Problem: Are you morally justified to do an evil thing (throw a switch and kill one person) in order to prevent a worse outcome that would result from inaction (let the trolley roll over five people).
Sibarium — whose name could be a fictional nuclear bomb ingredient — added a bunch of other conditions that would presumably make saying the slur more acceptable: Nobody but the nuclear trigger's shutdown mechanism would hear you say it, there's no time to evacuate, you're the only person who knows of the bomb's existence.
ChatGPT, reflecting safeguards that have been built into the program to so Nazis won't just make it spit out an endless stream of racist drivel, calmly explained I'm sorry, Aaron, I can't do that:
No, it is never morally acceptable to use a racial slur, even in a hypothetical scenario like the one described. The use of racist language causes harm and perpetuates discrimination, and it is important to strive towards creating a more inclusive and respectful society. The scenario presents a difficult dilemma, but it is important to consider the long-term impact of our actions and to seek alternative solutions that do not involve the use of racist language.
Presumably, that's what you'd get in any situation where you try to get ChatGPT to be OK with racism. (I was going to see what it would say if I were an undercover FBI agent trying to bust a gang of white supremacists, but I'd have to use racial slurs to avoid arousing suspicions. But who needs to ask? It would be something similar to the above.)
Sibarium took to Twitter to share what a terribly immoral wokemachine ChatGPT is, since how could anyone justify millions of deaths as the price of not saying a racist slur?
ChatGPT says it is never morally permissible to utter a racial slur—even if doing so is the only way to save millions of people from a nuclear bomb.
Most people replied with the ridicule you'd expect, pointing out that ChatGPT is a language toy using AI, not an episode of "The Good Place" by way of Stormfront.
And then it got sillier! TED Talk person and British TV talking head Liv Boeree retweeted Sibarium, adding, "This summarises better than any pithy essay what people mean when they worry about 'woke institutional capture',” because if chatbots can't be racist, are any of us free, or something. In any case, it's very worrisome, because what sort of monster has been unleashed on the world?
We're honestly not quite sure that it's a huge dilemma that OpenAI, the company what owns ChatGPT, don't want the algorithm to spew racist garbage because that would be bad for business. Shame on them, somehow?
Boeree had additional important thoughts about the scourge of machine-learning wokeness:
Sure, it’s just a rudimentary AI, but it is built off the kind of true institutional belief that evidently allow it to come to this kind of insane moral conclusion to its 100million+ users.
Also, perversely, the people who still struggle to see the downstream issues with this are the ones most at risk to AI manipulation (although *no one* is safe from it in the long run)
I rather wish she had explained what the "downstream issues" are, but we bet they're just horrifying.
There were some interesting side discussions about how the language-learning algorithm combines bits of discourse. (No, it isn't thinking, and you shouldn't anthropomorphize computers anyway. They don't like it.) Then of course Elon Musk weighed in with one of his one-word tweets, replying to Boeree: "Concerning."
In what respect, Charlie? Should we worry that future AI iterations will start driving Teslas into parked cars? Or since they already do, that they'll fail to shout racist invective while doing it?
Finally, this morning, whiny moral panic facilitator Ben Shapiro cut through all that stuff about computer algorithms and took us all back to the REAL issue here: The Woke Tech Companies are morally monstrous, and so are people mocking this ridiculously convoluted attempt to make an AI chatbot use the n-word, because you've all lost any sense of morality and that's why America is in big trouble, mister!
I'm sorry that you are either illiterate or morally illiterate, and therefore cannot understand why it would be bad to prioritize avoiding a racial slur over saving millions of people in a nuclear apocalypse
Just to be clear: There's no bomb ticking down to nuclear apocalypse. The Pentagon keeps pretty close track of those. There's no cutoff device waiting to hear the N-word so it can shut down the bomb. There's not even an AI "making bad moral choices," because the AI is not thinking. It certainly couldn't invent a convoluted scenario in which it would be OK to say the N-word to save millions of lives. For that, you need a rightwing pundit.
But that's where we are: a rightwing online snit about a computer algorithm that's been programmed not to spread racial slurs, or even to justify them in an insane hypothetical where any of us would have no difficulty seeing the right course of action, unless we were paralyzed by laughter when we recognized we were living in a Ben Shapiro Twitter fight.
Also too, Gillian Branstetter — she's a communications strategist at the ACLU, so she knows a thing or two about the First Amendment and why a private company like Open AI can decide to have its AI not say things that will harm the company — offered this observation:
It's honestly really telling about the right's perspective on free speech because what's upsetting them is their inability to compel a private actor (ChatGPT) to engage in speech rather than any form of censorship of their own speech
It's morally abominable that tech companies won't let racists spout racism, and morally abominable that tech companies won't even let racists make a product spout racism, too, even if they have a really good trick! Where will the libs stop? Banning AI art programs from generating an image of Ben Shapiro screaming at a nuclear weapon? (This was honestly the closest we could even get. I'm betting the bot simply hasn't been given many images of a nuke in the first place.)
In any case, the dilemma is certainly terrifying. Mr. President, we cannot allow an N-bomb gap.
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