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I think people who accept high-profile positions don't have a moral right to retain those positions. It may not always be the case that they have a moral obligation to abandon them at the first sign of trouble; the analysis will always be fact-specific. Here, I don't think there's much doubt. Ito should have left weeks ago. He had to know this was going to happen; the last few weeks of drama have come entirely at the Lab's expense, seemingly as a long-shot gamble that Ito might weather the storm.



> I think people who accept high-profile positions don't have a moral right to retain those positions.

I'm not really sure what this even means. Everyone has some moral right to the position they're in. The question is how much.

> He had to know this was going to happen; the last few weeks of drama have come entirely at the Lab's expense, seemingly as a long-shot gamble that Ito might weather the storm.

This is sort of the crux of my point, though. Your original argument which you seem to be backing off of is that controversy alone is a distraction, and therefore he ought to step down because he caused controversy. And the fact that he caused controversy is certainly unequivocal.

What is equivocal is whether or not he did something wrong. And that is the true issue on which the rectitude of his resignation turns. It seems to me that he probably believed he didn't do anything wrong, and as such had a moral right to retain his position because he believed he did nothing wrong. Not that anyone in a position of power should resign as soon as they cause a stir.


I think two things:

* Ito's position at MIT was so compromised that, for the good of the organization, he needed to quit. He had an obligation to do so; MIT didn't owe him his role, but rather he had joined to serve MIT. He was doing so no longer.

* One reason he was so compromised, in my estimation of the available information, is that he repeatedly did something egregiously wrong. Once again: I've never even heard of a boss anywhere else in technology putting their employees in a position where they felt they may have had to intervene --- at the workplace --- to thwart sex trafficking by an invited VIP guest.

The former argument I think is clear and defensible even if you harbor doubts about how bad Ito's actions were.


> * Ito's position at MIT was so compromised that, for the good of the organization, he needed to quit. He had an obligation to do so; MIT didn't owe him his role, but rather he had joined to serve MIT. He was doing so no longer.

Of course MIT has the right to fire him. I don't really understand what you're trying to argue. The question is whether they should have fired him, which in my view is entirely determined by the badness of his actions.

I really cannot see you pursuing this line of argument with the moral tables turned. If the CFO of Chik-fil-a got forced out because it turned out they were supporters of gay marriage and Chikfila's customers didn't like that, would you be making the same point? That that CFO had no moral right to their position?

> * One reason he was so compromised, in my estimation of the available information, is that he repeatedly did something egregiously wrong. Once again: I've never even heard of a boss anywhere else in technology putting their employees in a position where they felt they may have had to intervene --- at the workplace --- to thwart sex trafficking by an invited VIP guest.

I think that's a very unfair framing of the issue. He invited Epstein over. Epstein brought his 'assistants'. It's still a question mark whether they were even prostitutes, let alone prostitutes operating in any sort of non-consensual capacity. What we have here is simply that someone at MIT speculated whether they were being trafficked. There is no evidence at all that their presence was anything other than consensual.


> I think that's a very unfair framing of the issue. He invited Epstein over. Epstein brought his 'assistants'. It's still a question mark whether they were even prostitutes, let alone prostitutes operating in any sort of non-consensual capacity. What we have here is simply that someone at MIT speculated whether they were being trafficked. There is no evidence at all that their presence was anything other than consensual.

How is it unfair? Have you ever been put in a position at work where it even crossed your mind that associates of a guest your boss invited might be sex trafficked? Have you even heard of that happening until now? We are talking about a truly extraordinary situation; can we not agree that if you have to even consider the question, something is very wrong?

The focus on whether or not they were correct about these particular women being trafficked is myopic. It’s 2019, and we have the benefit of hindsight: Epstein was indeed still sex trafficking. This instance may or may not have been an example of that, but ultimately the Media Lab employees’ fears about him were borne out.


What does "sex trafficked" mean?

Is it prostitution? Sexual slavery?

Why do you use such an unclear term in a discussion?


Is that really an important question? Is there an definition that would make it okay?


Yes, "why do you use 'sex trafficking' term?" is an important question.

Yes: if under "sex trafficking" we understand [consensual] "prostitution", then in some states it is OK.

But even if "sex trafficking" is not ok -- there are various degrees of "not ok".

That is why it is important to use clear definitions in a discussion. Unclear "sex trafficking" term converts discussion from rational to irrational, when everyone is free to imagine what exactly "sex trafficking" means.


I don’t know of any definition of “sex trafficking” in which it’s consensual. But just so we’re clear, here’s the relevant part of the quote:

> We literally had a conversation about how, on the off chance that they’re not there by choice, we could maybe help them.


Do you have an information that sex that these girls had with Epstein or with his friends or with his clients - was not consensual?

The stories that these girls told suggest that they were free to leave.


To keep it short it just means pimping, which is illegal


1) Is it illegal to receive donations from pimps?

2) Is "forced suicide" a fair punishment for pimps?


1) I would assume so 2) I have no idea what to say about this. The punishment should have been served by the legal system which as we all know failed the first time around. The forced suicide as you call it is a terrible outcome, lots of important people escaped and sighed relief. We don't know what Epstein would have divulged and now we will never know that.


> How is it unfair? Have you ever been put in a position at work where it even crossed your mind that associates of a guest your boss invited might be sex trafficked? Have you even heard of that happening until now? We are talking about a truly extraordinary situation; can we not agree that if you have to even consider the question, something is very wrong?

Of course i've heard of that happening. People speculate all the time that older men out with younger, attractive women are being "trafficked" in the sense meant here. That sense being: they're prostitutes / escorts. Sometimes it's true, sometimes it's not.

> The focus on whether or not they were correct about these particular women being trafficked is myopic. It’s 2019, and we have the benefit of hindsight: Epstein was indeed still sex trafficking. This instance may or may not have been an example of that, but ultimately the Media Lab employees’ fears about him were borne out.

The entire point under discussion however turns on the question of whether or not the evidence of him engaging in this behavior warranted him being exiled by MIT at the time. Not the evidence today.


> Of course i've heard of that happening. People speculate all the time that older men out with younger, attractive women are being "trafficked" in the sense meant here.

That is not the question. Has your boss at your tech job ever invited an important guest to your workplace, who brought associates whom you reasonably thought might be there against their will?

> The entire point under discussion however turns on the question of whether or not the evidence of him engaging in this behavior warranted him being exiled by MIT at the time. Not the evidence today.

No, the discussion is about whether Ito should have known at the time to not work with Epstein. tptacek is also arguing that he should have left once Epstein’s involvement with Media Lab was first discovered, since he had to know the depth of the story.


> That is not the question. Has your boss at your tech job ever invited an important guest to your workplace, who brought associates whom you reasonably thought might be there against their will?

No, and neither did Epstein. They had no reasonable basis to assume these women were there against their will.

> No, the discussion is about whether Ito should have known at the time to not work with Epstein. tptacek is also arguing that he should have left once Epstein’s involvement with Media Lab was first discovered, since he had to know the depth of the story.

I think you just reiterated my point. Yes, the question is whether, at the time Ito should have known not to work with Epstein. Whether the publicly available information at the time was sufficient to justify his exile from MIT.


A conviction years before on exactly the relevant charges certainly should have cast suspicion on him showing up with young girls in tow, especially when they would be arguably unnecessary in that meeting context.


It was unstated what the age of the women referenced in the article was. Indeed if it appeared that they were underage, that would have been deeply problematic. But I note that the article does not actually say that, which strongly implies that they did not appear to anyone to be underage. Because if they did, that would have been made explicit, since it fits the fact pattern attempting to be established here.


If we can’t agree that it’s suspicious for a pedophile known for prostituting young girls from Eastern Europe to then show up with two young girls from Eastern Europe, I think we’re done here.


Let me be more clear, then. If Epstein indeed showed up with a pair of 'assistants' that looked like they were underage, that is terrible. If Joi Ito condoned that or failed to act upon discovery of that, he deserves all the blame he's getting.

However, I note that the article avoids actually stating that the women appeared to be underage. It avoids saying anything about their age or appearance at all, other than that they were attractive. Had they appeared to be underage, that likely would have been made explicit in the article, since it fits the fact pattern that the article is trying to establish. Therefore we can reasonably conclude that the women in question did not appear to anyone to be underage. And as such, it is likely that they were simply high class escorts, and under no form of duress and in no need of rescue by anyone.


You’re right, ephebophilia is not a crime.


the evidence of him engaging in this behavior warranted him being exiled by MIT at the time

So dude who is (at the time) convicted of a sexual crime involving a minor shows up at MIT Media Lab with a pair of very young, model-looking women assistants, what what are rational moral actors supposed to think? That he's just a railroaded maverick?


> So dude who is (at the time) convicted of a sexual crime involving a minor shows up at MIT Media Lab with a pair of very young, model-looking women assistants, what what are rational moral actors supposed to think? That he's just a railroaded maverick?

It was unstated what the age or appearance of the women in question was. If they were of legal age, then they were likely simply escorts, in no need of anyone's rescue. If they appeared to be underage, that likely would have been stated in the article.


Someone was troubled enough to resign over this. Like, what the fuck, at his point, man? Every single comment you have posted about this includes some blatant misrepresentation.


> Someone was troubled enough to resign over this. Like, what the fuck, at his point, man?

People resign over things all the time. That isn't really evidence of much at all.

> Every single comment you have posted about this includes some blatant misrepresentation

You keep acting like you've made actual points, but you haven't. I'm happy to listen to your point of view, if you actually want to articulate one. You are calling out "misrepresentations". What do you think i've misrepresented?


[flagged]


> You started with conflating whatever happened to Epstein with felon disenfranchisement

I have articulated a justification for that comparison. You making an actual point would be referencing that justification and attempting to debunk it. That's how you make actual points.

> Somewhere in the middle you made up a definition of 'ostracism'.

I made one up? MIT refusing to accept donations from someone is not my definition of ostracism. It is the definition of ostracism. You may believe that that ostracism is justified, but the word's meaning is quite clear.

> Now you're saying a person convicted of sexual abuse of a minor should raise no questions when he brings women half his age to an MIT fundraising meeting.

I did not, in fact, say that.

pvg 40 days ago [flagged]

It is the definition of ostracism.

No. Not even close. I left you a lengthy comment about this to which you did not respond.

I have articulated

You're making excuses for a child rapist. Over and over and over. Again, what the fuck, man? Once again, I'm asking you this directly.


> No. Not even close. I left you a lengthy comment about this to which you did not respond

I responded now. I simply hadn't seen it.

> You're making excuses for a child rapist. Over and over and over. Again, what the fuck, man? Once again, I'm asking you this directly.

I'm not sure why you insist on misreading me. I'm not making excuses for a child rapist. I'm not excusing Epstein's behavior. I'm excusing Ito's behavior.


I don't think I can do a better job of explaining what I'm trying to articulate than I already have, sorry.


> The question is whether they should have fired him, which in my view is entirely determined by the badness of his actions.

Are you arguing that he did nothing wrong? In that case why did he hide his actions from MIT, after it had explicitly blacklisted Epstein as a donor?

> someone at MIT speculated ... There is no evidence at all that their presence was anything other than consensual.

Maybe so, but they had good reason to. Epstein by that point had already been convicted on the sex offender charge. And then he was going around accompanied by young European women, and there's nothing suspicious about that? Come on.


> Are you arguing that he did nothing wrong? In that case why did he hide his actions from MIT, after it had explicitly blacklisted Epstein as a donor?

Yes i'm arguing that Joi (not Epstein, obviously) did nothing wrong. I don't believe he did hide what he was doing from MIT - he hid it from the public, by not listing Epstein as a donor.

> Maybe so, but they had good reason to. Epstein by that point had already been convicted on the sex offender charge. And then he was going around accompanied by young European women, and there's nothing suspicious about that? Come on.

If these European women were underage, sure. If they were adults, what's the problem here? If they were underage, or the other employees of the media lab suspected they were underage, that would have been made explicit in the article. But it wasn't, therefore they weren't. Which means the only explanation for the term 'trafficking' in this context would be that Epstein was holding them against their will, something I don't think he's ever actually been accused of.

Which is all a long-winded way of saying that the notion that the employees at the media lab were worried these European women were "trafficked" is bullshit. What they were actually made uncomfortable by was that these women were essentially prostitutes, and that I understand. That'd make me uncomfortable too. But it's not the same as bringing non-consensual slaves to your MIT meetings as implied by the phrasing of the article.


> Everyone has some moral right to the position they're in. The question is how much

They have some kind of right without any obligations? Care to expand?

> It seems to me that he probably believed he didn't do anything wrong, and as such had a moral right to retain his position because he believed he did nothing wrong

The latest reveal is that Joi Ito deliberately hid interactions with Epstein from the rest of the lab and from MIT.

His earlier denials were lies he told to keep his position.

The strongest possible form of your argument becomes 'He thought the behavior was fine but knew that others would disagree, so he deceived them to manage the situation', which is not exactly a slam dunk for your moral rights argument.


This is, essentially, control fraud. Ito was spending the Media Lab's attention, focus, reputation and researchers.

I'd like to think that this would harm Ito's reputation, but fully expect him to be installed somewhere cushy soon enough. This likely makes him more attractive to a certain type of employer.


Considering that the MIT Media Lab granted a disobedience award to MeToo advocates, that makes some sense.

Though it seems more pragmatic than a moral right.




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