As I explained in my Jack Marshall day post last year, my plan was to write about Jack Marshall’s Ethics Alarms blog once a year. My few remaining readers may have noticed that I missed the anniversary date.
When I first started reading his Ethics Alarms blog all those years ago, I found Jack to be a fascinating writer and a seemingly endless source of great topics to blog about. We often disagreed, but it was an interesting conversation.
Alas, after a few years, Jack’s authoritarian streak began to grate on me. It had been no big deal in the early years, but as he got more bellicose and less willing to discuss issues — “This is undeniable; mine is an objective observation” — his posts began to infuriate me more and more. I stopped posting comments on his blog, and responded only on my blog, where I didn’t have to be polite.
Eventually, I realized this was probably boring my readers, and I got the idea to limit myself one Ethics Alarms post per year. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but I soon realized that if I was going to write anything about Ethics Alarms after a year went by, I would have to know what Jack had written in that year. I started keeping notes. And because it was fuckin’ 2020, I ended up with a hell of a lot of notes.
I gathered notes all through the pandemic, all through the summer of protests, and all through that stupid, stupid election. My Ethics Alarms clip file grew to more than 22,000 words. I began harvesting clips to assemble a draft post, and I quickly realized I had enough material to carve out some of it into a preview post about Jack’s failure to do the homework when writing about science. I had a huge amount of material.
And then, a few months ago, like turning off a switch, I stopped giving a shit about what Jack Marshall had to say.
I’m not entirely sure why. Probably because Trump lost and we had vaccines for the pandemic, so Jack’s idiotic anti-anti-Trump stance seemed less consequential, as did his ridiculous takes on COVID-19, which to this day he calls the “Wuhan virus” (because the names used by the entire world health community are too politically correct or something). Even Jack’s authoritarian fan-boy streak is somewhat tempered by the fact that he sees the problem more clearly when it comes from the political left.
I considered putting together a post anyway, just because I said I would, but ultimately I decided not to.
In part it’s because, for all my disagreements with Jack, I don’t want him to get cancelled. Although I disagree strongly with much of Jack’s ethical thinking about issues like immigration, race relations, and law enforcement, I’ve never heard anything bad about they way he teaches existing legal ethics principles as they apply to lawyers. If Jack’s business ever does get cancelled, it will be because of something he wrote at Ethics Alarms, not because of something I wrote here, but I’d still rather not have anything I wrote contribute to it.
In part, also, it’s because Jack occasionally wrote things like this:
I began today driving for two hours to find a meeting for which I had been given the wrong address, and, like the fool that I have always been, didn’t bring along the phone number of anyone who could help me. It is during ordeals like this that I begin to reflect on what a failure and underachiever I am, and how I really don’t have enough time left for turnaround. All that privilege, and good fortune, wasted. And I have no one to blame but myself.
I’ve also noticed that Jack is posting a lot more, his posts have a lot more typos and formatting errors, and he seems angrier. I believe he mentioned that some family members have had health problems. I also suspect the various lockdowns and travel limits probably shut down off much of his lecture business for months, and he’s mentioned having problems finding work. I know his commenters recently pitched in to buy him a new computer.
Although I enjoy mocking Jack for being a self-righteous blowhard, because I feel he brings it on himself, I don’t want to go on mocking someone who’s suffering from the stress of holding it together through a difficult time. So, unless something changes, this is all I have to say about Jack.