Category Archives: Comment of the Day

Comment of the Day: “Hoping That Future Presidential Candidates Won’t Be Asked About Whether They Would Kill Baby Trump”


Let’s get the day off to a light-hearted beginning, since it is sure to go rapidly downhill.

I love this comment by Ethics Alarms’ favorite squid, Extradimensional Cephalopod. I wish I had written it, and in fact started out to do so during the brief outbreak of Republican Presidential candidates being asked by silly reporters looking for a “gotcha!” whether they would murder Baby Adolf Hitler if they could go back in time. It is an ethics question, after all. My idea was to speculate on the possible results of such a mission using pop culture, science fiction and serious physics theories, but I rapidly discovered that a lot of research would be necessary, and the ethics nexus was deteriorating quickly. Thus I was thrilled to see EC boldly go where my boldness had failed me.

Here is Extradimensional Cephalopod’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Hoping That Future Presidential Candidates Won’t Be Asked About Whether They Would Kill Baby Trump.”

[I do have one question: is “Back to the Future” now the favored label for the category of time travel story where someone changes the future by altering the past? Not “The Terminator” or Star Trek’s “City on the Edge of Forever”? In “Back to the Future II”, we are told that altering the past creates a parallel alternate future, which I assume means that killing Baby Hitler just means that Hitler goes on his merry way, except in the new, improved, no-Hitler parallel universe. Come to think of it, “The Terminator” movies, last I checked (but I dropped out two sequels and a TV spin-off ago), suggested that the future can’t be changed, though those robots in Future Hell seem to think so.  Right?

See, this is why I gave up the first time. Heeeeeeeeere’s Extradimensional Cephalopod! Continue reading


Filed under Comment of the Day, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, History, Journalism & Media, Popular Culture, Science & Technology

Comment of the Day: Tesla’s Seat Belt Recall, Moral Luck, and Ethics Chess


Rich in CT delivers a Comment of the Day amplifying the issues in the post, Tesla’s Seat Belt Recall, Moral Luck, and Ethics Chess. Here it is:

I owned a Honda up until last year, until a deer took a gamble that it could get across the same stretch of faster than my car could. Mr. Deer ended up taking a short flight further down the road, and my car ended up taking a short tow to the junk yard.

No one (human) was hurt in this instance, and for that I am grateful.

Continue reading


Filed under Business & Commercial, Comment of the Day, Marketing and Advertising

Comment of the Day: “An Ethics Mystery: Why Can’t Democrats Be Honest Or Responsible Regarding The Syrian Refugees?”

No risk too small...

No risk too small…

I asked for a single reasonable, rational explanation of Democratic/progressive enthusiasm for allowing Syrian refugees, including an unknown number of potential terrorists, to enter and reside in the United States. I cited the pathetic attempts at such arguments made by various officials, candidates for President, and journalists. What has come in from comments so far does not meet my standard of reasonable or persuasive, and frankly deepens the mystery of why liberal leanings force people to take such positions. One of the most revealing articles of the liberal mindset came from extreme-left journalist Kevin Drum, writing on the web site of the “by any means necessary” leftist publication Mother Jones. He wrote:

“Here’s the thing: to the average person, it seems perfectly reasonable to be suspicious of admitting Syrian refugees to the country. We know that ISIS would like to attack the US. We know that ISIS probably has the wherewithal to infiltrate a few of its people into the flood of refugees. And most voters have no idea how easy it is to get past US screening. They probably figure it’s pretty easy.

So to them it doesn’t seem xenophobic or crazy to call for an end to accepting Syrian refugees. It seems like simple common sense. After all, things changed after Paris.

Mocking Republicans over this—as liberals spent much of yesterday doing on my Twitter stream—seems absurdly out of touch to a lot of people. Not just wingnut tea partiers, either, but plenty of ordinary centrists too. It makes them wonder if Democrats seriously see no problem here. Do they care at all about national security? Are they really that detached from reality?

The liberal response to this should be far more measured. We should support tight screening. Never mind that screening is already pretty tight. We should highlight the fact that we’re accepting a pretty modest number of refugees. In general, we should act like this is a legitimate thing to be concerned about and then work from there….”

How damning and obnoxious. Drum never actually explains why the concern aren’t legitimate; he just condescendingly assumes that his compatriots understand they just are, because…why? Obama, who has been wrong about just about everything, says so, I suppose. Or because progressives are just enlightened. Maybe because Democrats believe open borders are a great thing, because the minority migrants, legal or illegal, mean more votes. I have no idea why he is so smugly superior, but he gives only one substantive argument: “Never mind that screening is already pretty tight.”

Oh is it now? From that far-right conservative, Republican wacko xenophobic newspaper, the Washington Post:

While they say U.S. security measures are much better than in the past, vetting Syrian refugees poses a quandary: How do you screen people from a war-torn country that has few criminal and terrorist databases to check?

The United States has resettled more than 3 million refugees since the mid-1970s, and the screening system in the post-9/11 era includes multiple background checks, screenings against FBI and other databases and an in-person interview. Debate over the program has intensified since the deadly terrorist strikes in Paris blamed on the Islamic State, though each attacker identified so far whose nationality has been confirmed has been found to be a European national, not part of the wave of refugees from Syria.

“I don’t, obviously, put it past the likes of ISIL to infiltrate operatives among these refugees, so that’s a huge concern of ours,” Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said at a security industry conference in September, using another name for the Islamic State. He added that the government has “a pretty aggressive program” for screening refugees but that he is less confident about European nations.

FBI Director James Comey added in congressional testimony last month that “a number of people who were of serious concern” slipped through the screening of Iraq War refugees, including two arrested on terrorism-related charges. “There’s no doubt that was the product of a less than excellent vetting,” he said.

Although Comey said the process has since “improved dramatically,” Syrian refugees will be even harder to check because, unlike in Iraq, U.S. soldiers have not been on the ground collecting information on the local population. “If we don’t know much about somebody, there won’t be anything in our data,” he said. “I can’t sit here and offer anybody an absolute assurance that there’s no risk associated with this.”

Then the story follows with an extensive description of what screening is supposed to be, an was with Iraqi refugees—none of which appears to be relevant to the reality of screening the Syrian. The story concludes:

But one of the senior administration officials at Tuesday’s briefing acknowledged the limitations inherent in screening refugees from Syria, where it’s very difficult to determine something as basic as an applicant’s criminal history.

“We do the best with what we have,” the official said. “We talk to people about what their criminal histories are, and we hear about that. That’s pretty much where we are.”

Talk to people about what their criminal histories are. Yup, nothing to worry about. Only xenophobes and racists would see any deficiencies or risks here. Let’s just pretend to respect what they say; they can’t stop it anyway.

Here is Beth’s Comment of the Day on the post, An Ethics Mystery: Why Can’t Democrats Be Honest Or Responsible Regarding The Syrian Refugees??

Yes, I’ll be back at the end.

And still ticked off. Continue reading


Filed under Around the World, Comment of the Day, Government & Politics, War and the Military

Comment of the Day: “Unethical Quote Of The Week: My Progressive, Rational, Educated and Gay Facebook Friend”


Unlike most Comments of the Day, this one by Penn/Same Penn, who has two aliases here due to WordPress’s inexplicable habit of eating his posts, requires some back-reading to fully appreciate…but it is worth the effort.

The original post is about a Facebook friend’s mass condemnation of the Lone star State as a frightening, bigoted and  violent place where he would never set foot, in part because of his anger over Houston’s rejection last week of a bill that would expand LGBT civil rights in the city. My post noted that painting Texas with such a broad and harsh brush is itself bigotry—a position that cannot be rebutted, I believe—and reader Neil protested that the anti-Texas and Texans sentiment was just.

This inspired P/SP to one of the most eloquent and thoughtful posts Ethics Alarms has ever received, on any topic, and his is complex here, far ranging from its inspiration.

Here is Penn’s Comment of the Day on the post, Unethical Quote Of The Week: My Progressive, Rational, Educated and Gay Facebook Friend: Continue reading


Filed under Comment of the Day, Daily Life, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Etiquette and manners, Facebook, Journalism & Media, U.S. Society

Comment of the Day: “Joe Biden, The Republicans, And The Lawn Chair Test”

"Cheer up!" said the voice. "Things could be worse!" So I cheered up, and, sure enough, things got worse!

“Cheer up!” said the Voice. “Things could be worse!” So I cheered up, and, sure enough, things got worse…

This will be the second Presidential election for Ethics Alarms. As I learned in the first one (2012), keeping politics out of the posts and discussion are futile. Nonetheless, I will work to stay away from policy debates unless there is clear ethical content,  as  with illegal immigration, abortion, income distribution or gun control. Leadership is the second topic that Ethics Alarms encompasses, in part because character and the ethical handling of power are so important to ethical leadership. Competence is also an important component. An indirect message of the recent post about Joe Biden was that the United States, though it always needs competent leadership in the White House, needs it even more than usual, and potential candidates for the job do not appear to have it.

Veteran Ethics Alarms commenter Michael R has delivered a useful and troubling addendum to what I wrote. Here is his Comment of the Day on the post Joe Biden, The Republicans, And The Lawn Chair Test: Continue reading


Filed under Around the World, Comment of the Day, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Incompetent Elected Officials, Leadership, U.S. Society

Comment of the Day: “Who Are You Calling A Nut?” And Other Ethics Issues In The Community College Shooting Aftermath (Continued)”


Ethics Alarms’ eccentric philosopher Michael Ejercito, who excels in asking provocative questions, ends his Comment of the Day regarding the attack on gun ownership with the query, “Why do people use such discredited arguments?”

There’s certainly a lot of discredited arguments in the air. A writer named Michael Pusitan wrote a risible post (inspiring a very funny Animal House referenced take-town by the Instapundit) about getting rid of his guns, ending with this passage:

Last week, I sat in a hotel room and watched the President talk about the latest mass shooting and how they had become routine and the concern that nothing would change. I started to shrug it off and pretend in my mind that there was nothing I could do. But the idea that gun culture doesn’t bear some responsibility for these killings didn’t make sense to me. I didn’t want to be a part of gun culture anymore.

I was never going to use these guns for self-defense, they were safely locked and out of reach. I don’t hunt. I don’t shoot clays. There are no dangerous animals where I live. There are no zombies. I’m not a police officer or soldier. I am not part of a well regulated militia. There’s no reason for me to have them.

So I got rid of them. Firearms are no longer a hobby of mine.

This well-exposes the logical disconnect of virtually all the “WE GOTTA DO SOMETHING!” rants from political exploiters of the recent shootings, where the tragedy is used to insist on measures that will have no effect on preventing the tragedies at issue. Pusitan getting rid of his guns is grandstanding, that’s all. His action won’t save a single life, and if he snapped and decided to go shoot up a church he’d still be able to buy the guns to do it. Meanwhile, the statement “I didn’t want to be a part of gun culture anymore” is pure, distilled ignorance. It’s not the gun culture, you fool, it’s the culture, and unless you want to book a slow boat to China, you’re part of it whether you like it or not, because you live here, and derive the good and the bad from the uniquely vital and productive individual initiative and freedom-based culture that is the United States of America.

(Instapundit’s joke quotes Otter: THESE TIMES CALL FOR A REALLY STUPID, FUTILE GESTURE. And he’s just the guy who can do it.)

The answers to Michael’s question are many: because they don’t know what they are talking about, because they have no good, honest proposals, just bad, dishonest ones, because they are preaching to the choir and not really interested in changing anyone’s mind, because the whole debate is framed by emotion, not facts.

Here is Michael Ejercito‘s Comment of the Day on the post, “Who Are You Calling A Nut?” And Other Ethics Issues In The Community College Shooting Aftermath (Continued)”

A column from George Skelton on this issue, and my response.

It is really quite simple: Guns are designed for killing. The more guns there are, the more people get killed. That’s not just simple logic. It’s simple fact.

The same thing have been argued with regards to alcohol- or black people.

And no other developed nation comes close to us in firearms fatalities. We’re at 10-plus per 100,000 people. One third are homicides, two thirds are suicides.

I wonder if George Skelton even heard that California has legalized assisted suicide. The state thus declared that suicide is a good thing. Continue reading


Filed under Around the World, Comment of the Day, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Research and Scholarship, Rights, U.S. Society

Comment of the Day: “Mediaite’s Tommie Christopher Locks Up The Dishonest Spin Of The Year Award In Defense of Calling Ben Carson A Coon”


johnburger2013 piled on after my take-down of Tommie Christopher’s epic attempt to spin the unspinnable racist tweet by  University of Pennsylvania religious studies professor Anthea Butler, who wrote regarding Ben Carson. If only there was a ‘coon of the year’ award …”  His post went well beyond mine, was more exacting, analytical and funnier than my effort, and had Comment of the Day written all over it. I wrote that I was going to withhold the republication only because Christopher doesn’t deserve that much ink, but I received multiple protests from readers, so I am reversing myself. It is a terrific comment, but you really have to read Christopher’s screed to understand how terrific. Do that first, here.

Now read jb2013’s Comment of the Day on the post, Mediaite’s Tommie Christopher Locks Up The Dishonest Spin Of The Year Award In Defense of Calling Ben Carson A “Coon”:

I am going believe that everything Tommie Christopher wrote in his Mediaite column was tongue-in-cheek. I simply refuse to believe that someone can be that obtuse, that devoid of critical thought, and that blinded by self-delusion. Maybe it was a slow column day and he figured he would write something so far off the mark just to see how many people would . . . Oh, forget it. I can’t do it! I lost my roll of duct tape. I fear I will lose my security deposit when my landlord sees all of that cranial debris all over the walls and ceiling.

I do think that Tommie should have his computer privileges revoked, though, because he has utterly forfeited his right to write by writing stupid things under the guise of sophistication. He concludes his missive with this little gem:

“It’s a free country, though, so if you want to be offended by what Professor Butler said, go ahead. Just be offended by what she actually said, not what you imagine she said, and just know that no matter how many times she tweets the word ‘coon,’ it’s still racist when white people say it.”

Erm . . . Um . . . Tommie? Isn’t that what Dr. Ben Carson said about NASCAR fans proudly displaying the Stars and Bars? Superficially, Dr. Carson said they should fly it if they want if they’re on private property. Dr. Carson also said it was offensive, just as offensive as the Swastika. Nuance, Tommie. Nuance.

As you know, Tommie, words have meanings, and context does matters. When someone strings a bunch of words together, they are called sentences. Sentences strung together are called paragraphs. Paragraphs strung together form . . . oh, you get the picture, right?

Now, let’s think about “coon”. Setting aside the short cut for raccoon, what did the illustrious Professor mean to convey when she wrote her incomplete thought? She wrote, “If only there was a ‘coon of the year’ award …” Maybe I am naive, but I don’t think she meant ” . . . Ben Carson could tell NASCAR to hold the ceremony, as long as it’s a majority of people in the area who want to give out the award, and it was on private property.” Nah. She said exactly what she meant. It is a simple syllogism (that’s a fancy word for argument, Tommie – look it up). This may be a bit over your head, Tommie, but the statement she made is commonly referred to as “modus ponens”, which posits (meaning, states) “that if one thing is true, then another will be. It then states that the first is true. The conclusion is that the second thing is true”. It is commonly referred to as

“If A, then B. A; therefore, B”… Simple, no?

So, let’s try it out, shall we Tommie?

A: If only there were a “Coon of the Year” Award.
B: Then Dr;. Carson would win it.

See, Tommie? It’s really not that hard to figure what she meant.

But, Tommie, if we are going to extend or imply meanings or unwritten nuances into Prof. Butler’s comment as you suggest, then she could have meant just about anything. For example, she could have meant “. . . then apple pie is tasty”. But, that destroys the simplicity of the syllogism. Moreover, if we are going to imply non-racial connotations (meanings, Tommie), then perhaps we should extend the same courtesy to Dr. Carson. That seems reasonable to me. Consequently, I think Dr. Carson probably meant that free citizens, living in a free and ordered society exercising their own liberties, should not be waylaid by government censorship. He did not endorse that flag’s meaning, any more than the good Professor Butler did (according to your post) when she uttered her little gold nugget. If Prof. Butler did not mean to denigrate Dr. Carson by saying he should win the “Coon of the Year” Award, then Carson did not intend to promote racism by encouraging NASCAR fans to fly that stupid flag. See what I did there, Tommie? I used your argument to imply nuance in Dr. Carson’s comments. Neat, huh?

As aside, Tommie, if you are going to link to a website for support that “coon” is not a derogatory word, then perhaps you should actually read the site – it may come as a shock that the site declares what the common meaning of the word is and, oddly, tracks use of the word to marginalize blacks. Oh,and, next time, spare us the self-righteous moral indignation about only whites can be racists and are incapable of being outraged by black racism. It’s insulting.

Tommie, I know you meant well. You really did. But, sometimes, people say and write indefensible things and, no matter how hard you tie yourself into a pretzel, you just can’t save them from the consequences of their actions. Prof. Butler used a racially charged statement to insult Dr. Carson, who is a black pediatric neurosurgeon from John Hopkins University, lest we forget. Perhaps she should have called him an “Uncle Tom” for good measure, but I guess that wouldn’t be racially charged, either. Right? You are a fool, Tommie.


Filed under Comment of the Day, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Heroes, Etiquette and manners, Humor and Satire