Category Archives: Citizenship

Ethics Quote of the Week: Justice Sonia Sotamayor

Sonia_Sotomayor

“Race matters. Race matters in part because of the long history of racial minorities’ being denied access to the political process…Race also matters because of persistent racial inequality in society…And race matters for reasons that really are only skin deep, that cannot be discussed any other way, and that cannot be wished away. Race matters to a young man’s view of society when he spends his teenage years watching others tense up as he passes, no matter the neighborhood where he grew up. Race matters to a young woman’s sense of self when she states her hometown, and then is pressed, “No, where are you really from?”, regardless of how many generations her family has been in the country. Race matters to a young person addressed by a stranger in a foreign language, which he does not understand because only English was spoken at home. Race matters because of the slights, the snickers, the silent judgments that reinforce that most crippling of thoughts: “I do not belong here.” In my colleagues’ view, examining the racial impact of legislation only perpetuates racial discrimination. This refusal to accept the stark reality that race matters is regrettable.”

-—-Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotamayor, dissenting in the case of Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative, Integration and Immigration and Fight for Equality by Any Means Necessary, in which a 6-2 majority ruled that Michigan voters could ban race-based preferences at universities without violating the Constitution.

This screed was remarkably unprofessional for a Supreme Court Justice, an emotional recitation of unsupported assertions, perceptions and complaints with no constitutional relevance. Sotamayor, you may recall, was nominated by the President in the midst of a public debate regarding the importance of “empathy” on the bench, code for “we need more women.” But the Constitution is supposed to be interpreted by principles of law and legal reasoning, not from “the heart.” Well, we clearly got the empathetic Justice he wanted, for better or worse. Continue reading

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Filed under Citizenship, Ethics Quotes, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Race, Rights

The Supreme Court Delivers An Ethical Opinion On Democracy, Affirmative Action, and Fairness

Good work, SCOTUS!

Good work, SCOTUS!

In SCHUETTE, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF MICHIGAN v COALITION TO DEFEND AFFIRMATIVE ACTION, INTEGRATION AND IMMIGRATION RIGHTS AND FIGHT FOR EQUALITY BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY, the U.S. Supreme Court just affirmed, 6-2, Michigan’s right to ban state affirmative action programs. The decision was narrow, not taking up the issue of affirmative action itself, but rather affirming the right of the citizens of the state to ban it at the ballot box.

You should read the decision  here, and not let journalists distort it for you.  My favorite quotes: Continue reading

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Filed under Citizenship, Education, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Race, U.S. Society

Bergen Community College Shows Us Why Justin Carter Is Being Persecuted

Can't have this. Terrifying. Dangerous.

Can’t have this. Terrifying. Dangerous.

Remember Justin Carter? Last I checked, he was being tried for making a joke on Facebook, because of the culture of fear and speech monitoring created by the irresponsible hysteria over guns and terrorism.  He faces prison time. That this is a freedom-suffocating societal illness that threatens any and all of us is chronicled in Ken White account, and accompanying commentary, on the astonishing mistreatment of Bergen Community College Professor Francis Schmidt by the school, which was sent into a frenzy of terror because he posted to Google+ “a cute picture of his young daughter wearing a Game of Thrones t-shirt in a yoga pose next to a cat.”  Inside Higher Ed reports what happened next: Continue reading

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Filed under Citizenship, Education, Popular Culture, The Internet, Workplace

An Unethical Website, Golden Rule Malpractice And The Worst Anti-Bullying Program Ever

 Izzy

bully2buddy logo

The Golden Rule is a valuable ethics tool. No question about it. Its best feature is that it compels an ethical point of view, causing us to think about the impact of one’s conduct on others. This simple shift of perspective—that’s the other virtue of the Golden Rule: it’s simple; a child can understand it—-distances us from the powerful ethics alarms-muffling effects of non-ethical considerations, which are primarily our subjective wants and needs, and forces us to look past them to more ethical objectives.

The Golden Rule is not, however, a panacea, or even the most useful ethical system. It doesn’t work in complex systems , or when multiple inter-related interests are involved, or when chaos looms. You can’t run a successful business, organization or nation using only the Golden Rule; you can’t have a coherent legal system, or the rule of law, or a banking system. Yet there are a lot of people, many of them with advanced degrees, best-selling books and millions of followers, who continue to practice Golden Rule malpractice and preach that it will solve all society’s ills, despite the fact that the most cursory examination of history and human nature makes it blindingly clear that much as we would wish it otherwise, this just isn’t true. Some of these people are well-meaning, good-hearted chumps. Some are insane. Many are fanatics. Some of them are con-artists. All of them are dangerous.

The latter was illustrated when the fifth-graders in Lincoln, Nebraska’s Zeman Elementary School received flyers on how to deal with bullying. (To get the side issues this blog deals with periodically out of the way at the outset, the incompetent and naive advice the flyer contained is one of an endless number of examples of how the education establishment is inadequately trained, staffed and regulated to be trusted with the welfare of young children, and how any parent who blithely entrusts their offspring to public schools without monitoring them closely is irresponsible, because teachers and school administrators cannot be trusted to exercise good judgment.) The flyer contained none “rules” for bullied children to apply after and during bullying episodes. The flyer was disavowed after the Lincoln, Nebraska school system’s Facebook page melted from the abuse poured on it by shocked and disgusted parents, and so far, at least, nobody has transcribed all of what is barely readable on this photo of it, and I don’t see or type well enough to do it myself: Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Citizenship, Education, Research and Scholarship, Unethical Websites

John Paul Stevens’ Gilbertian Nonsense

 

The Lord Chancellor-Stevens

A rather long preface is in order. Bear with me, please…

In the great, underperformed Gilbert and Sullivan operetta “Iolanthe,” W.S. Gilbert, a lawyer by training, devised a satirical judicial solution to a dire turn in the plot. Iolanthe, a fairy, violated Fairy Law by marrying a mortal, who happened to be the Lord Chancellor of England (he never noticed her wings, apparently.) The transgression commands the death penalty, but Iolanthe received a pardon on the condition that she allow her husband to think her dead, which she does for a couple of decades, much of which she spends doing penance at the bottom of a froggy stream, on her head.…but I digress.

When she learns, however, that her husband of yore is about to marry the sweetheart of her half-fairy son, who, though the Lord Chancellor doesn’t know it, is also his son, Iolanthe reveals herself and the paternity to the Lord Chancellor, who is duly stunned. This again triggers the death penalty and just minutes away from the finale, it looks like Iolanthe is going to end up like Carlo in “The Godfather,” as the fairy equivalent of Clemenza waddles on to the stage. (That’s how I would stage it, anyway.) Then this happens: Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Citizenship, Government & Politics, Humor and Satire, Law & Law Enforcement, Literature, War and the Military

The Cruelest Month And The Duty To Remember

sultana-ablaze

If we have the education, curiosity, perspective and respect for our origins and those who have gone before us, the calendar is a source of constant reminders of what matters in life, and how we can be better citizens and human beings. It is a common belief among Millennials, and a lot of older Americans too, that history is irrelevant to their lives, and this is both a fallacy and a self-inflicted handicap. Not that keeping history in mind is easy: in this month, which T.S. Elliot dubbed “the cruelest,” paying appropriate respect by remembering is especially difficult.

Still, respecting history is our duty. It won’t be remembered, perhaps, but in April, 2012, a 23-year-old drunken fool named Daniel Athens was arrested for climbing over a barrier to urinate on a wall at the Alamo. Monday, a Texas judge threw the book at him, sentencing him to 18 months in state prison for vandalizing a National Monument and a shrine. The sentence seems extreme, and is a good example of how the law is a blunt weapon with which to enforce ethics. The Alamo has near religious significance in Texas, brave men died there, and the ruins serve as a symbol of critical virtues like loyalty, sacrifice, dedication, courage and patriotism. Athens, himself a Texan, defiled the memory of the fallen and symbolically rejected the values and heritage of his community and fellow citizens. Unfortunately, the harshness of the sentence will create sympathy for him: 18 months for peeing? But how else does a culture reinforce the importance of respect for the past? I don’t have an answer. Perhaps I would have sentenced him to take an exam on the lives of Travis, Crockett, Bowie, Seguin and the rest, as well as the siege itself, and imposed the jail term only if he flunked.

Yesterday, Major League Baseball celebrated the heroism and transformative life of Jackie Robinson, who broke baseball’s color barrier on April 15, 1947 by becoming baseball’s first black player, setting in motion powerful forces that propelled the cause of civil rights. Every player wore Robinson’s now retired uniform number 42, and there were commemorative ceremonies in the ball parks where it wasn’t too cold and wet to play ball. This remembrance had a difficult time competing with tax day, as history usually does when our immediate life concerns beckon.

Other important historical events deserving reflection, however, were more or less ignored entirely, for April 15 is a historically awful day: Continue reading

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Filed under Citizenship, Education, History

Update: “The Kidneys of Orlac”

He will die, not with his boots on, but with his kidneys in...

He will die, not with his boots on, but with his kidneys in…

One of the best threads Ethics Alarms has ever hosted occurred in response to the November 2013 post, “The Kidneys of Orlac,” which discussed the strange case of the Ohio death row resident who wanted to donate his organs to ill relatives. The issue generated an Ethics Quiz, a follow-up poll (“The Amityville Kidney”) involving the related issue of whether the recipient of a murderer’s organs had a right to know their creepy origin, and a terrific Comment of the Day, which was just one of the COTD-worthy submissions.

I had forgotten about the story until Mark Draughn raised it again at Windy Pundit in the context of criticizing bioethicists, one of whom had what Mark considered a particularly misbegotten argument against the transplants (I agree with Mark about that argument, but I also oppose giving condemned prisoners the privilege of donating organs to loved ones, or anyone at all.) This led me to review original post, which led me to re-read the comments.

I also discovered the resolution of the dilemma, which occurred at the end of last month. Ronald Phillips will not be allowed to donate his organs, because he wouldn’t have enough time to recover from the operation before his execution.  Ah, yes, the old “You have to be in tip-top shape before we can kill you, or it isn’t really punishment”  Catch 22! Ethics, you see, had nothing to do with the bureaucratic resolution here, just the letter of the law, rules, and bureacrats refusing to look for the best solution in an anomalous situation, rather than the one they could reach on auto-pilot. As a result, nobody made a reasoned determination about what is right, or what capital punishment really signifies, or apparently even tried. That is how so many government decisions are made, and that, my friends, is far scarier than having the kidneys of a killer.

 

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Filed under Bioethics, Citizenship, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, Law & Law Enforcement, Quizzes

Autonomy: The Ethics Alarm That Obamacare Should Be Setting Off, But Isn’t

fire_alarm

Autonomy. This is the ethical value, a sub-set of the “respect” section of the Josephson Institute’s Six Pillars of Character, that is suddenly absent from the value set of the New American Left. This is cause for concern to say the least, because autonomy is the very value that was the impetus for the nation’s founding, and that is at the core of the Bill of Rights as well as the “inalienable rights” that introduce Mr. Jefferson’s mission statement for our strange experiment in self-governance. Beginning back in Bill Clinton’s administration, advocates of a nationalized health care system, including President Clinton himself, began floating the historical and logical nonsense that Jefferson and the Founders would have enthusiastically supported national health care. This is, of course, a cynical lie if one is educated (as it was in Clinton’s case) or proof positive of complete unfamiliarity with, oh, everything about the Founders, their political philosophy, and political philosophy generally. Whatever the value of a national health care program, the idea that the government would presume to dictate how one managed something so personal and intimate as one’s own health would have horrified  every signer of the Declaration, from its author to Button Gwinett.

That Mr. Jefferson’s supposed followers—he is the Original Democrat, by most lights, would reach the point of maintaining that the public’s beliefs, opinions and attitudes must be bent to their will is a development that threatens the existence of United States society and culture as we know it. The recent flare in this emergency arrived via the mugging of Brandon Eich, ex-CEO of Mozilla, who was deemed by the liberal elite as unworthy of keeping his job (though Mozilla is an internet company and he is an innovator in the field) because he was not convinced of the rightness of same-sex marriage by the elite’s newly determined, and well past,  deadline—a deadline that such progressive icons as Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton also missed, but never mind. Conformity to Progressive Truth has become the order of the day, and woe be to any good citizen who dares to oppose it. Does this sound like freedom to you? “Choice,” to use a popular rallying cry in the protest against the “War against Women?” It doesn’t sound like freedom to me. Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Bioethics, Citizenship, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, Law & Law Enforcement, Rights, U.S. Society

ABC Quietly Apologizes For Being An Unethical, Unprofessional, Biased and Unfair News Organization. Not Accepted.

"Oops! Did we use THAT clip! Silly us!"

“Oops! Did we use THAT clip! Silly us!”

“Reporting”—in scare quotes because it was in fact advocacy, character assassination and blatant news manipulation—on the successful totalitarian movement by gay rights advocates to force Mozilla to fire its CEO (for the thought crime of not opposing an anti-gay marriage ballot initiative in California, but rather being so evil as  to exercise his rights of political speech and support the traditional definition of marriage), ABC news accompanied the report on “Good Morning America” with video of a Westboro Baptist Church demonstration, complete with its charming “God Hates Fags” signs.

This, of course, implicitly sided with those, led by the CEO of OKCupid,  trying to rob Brendan Eich of his job for having a different view than the intolerant Left, while imputing to Eich ugly attitudes that there is no evidence whatsoever he possesses. It seem ABC selected the same clip in 2012 in a story about the Supreme Court’s gay marriage ruling, making the illicit  suggestion in such a choice that there are just two sides in this issue; those who “hate fags,” like the Phelpsians, and those who want all Americans, whatever their sexual orientation, to be able to have their relationships with committed loved ones recognized as a legal marriage.

Mr. Eich has the money and the team of lawyers to make ABC pay dearly for this slur on his character (there is no similarly expensive way to make the network—and the others, for this was just ABC’s turn—accountable for blatant news distortion and advocacy in the guise of “objective news reporting.”), so ABC pulled the false video and issued this wan and dishonest apology: Continue reading

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Filed under Citizenship, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Professions, Religion and Philosophy

Ethics Observations On “The Kissing Congressman” Scandal

 

Passionate Kiss

Rep. Vance McAllister (R-La), a married freshman Republican congressman who campaigned by proclaiming his Christian, pro-family values, was seen  on leaked surveillance video from his district office embracing and kissing the Congressman’s 33-year-old  scheduler, also married, Melissa Anne Hixon Peacock.  McAllister apologized, saying

“There’s no doubt I’ve fallen short and I’m asking for forgiveness. I’m asking for forgiveness from God, my wife, my kids, my staff, and my constituents who elected me to serve. Trust is something I know has to be earned whether you’re a husband, a father, or a congressman. I promise to do everything I can to earn back the trust of everyone I’ve disappointed. From day one, I’ve always tried to be an honest man. I ran for Congress to make a difference and not to just be another politician. I don’t want to make a political statement on this, I would just simply like to say that I’m very sorry for what I’ve done.”

Meanwhile, Mrs. Peacock has been dismissed from her job, and reportedly her marriage is shattered.

Some ethics observations: Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Citizenship, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Romance and Relationships, Workplace