Category Archives: Religion and Philosophy

Ethics Dunces: The Republican “Base”

National religion

Public Polling Policy surveyed 316 Republican primary voters—the hard core— from February 20th to 22nd to measure their attitudes and policy views, as well as their current preferences for President. The margin of error for the survey is +/- 5.5%. The results are here.

The headlines will be about the candidate rankings, which are meaningless at this point. The valuable revelation, especially for Democrats who want to mercilessly mock their Republican friends, if they have any, and Republicans who want to drown themselves out of hopelessness and shame are…

A. The graphic above, showing that 57% of the Republicans polled want to establish a national religion, Christianity, and

B. The fact that only 37% believe in evolution. Continue reading

207 Comments

Filed under Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Government & Politics, Incompetent Elected Officials, Religion and Philosophy, Rights, Science & Technology, U.S. Society

What’s Really Wrong About The President Refusing To Say That Islamic Extremists Are Islamic Extremists

(Other than the fact that it’s ridiculous, of course.)

war_is_peace

Not THAT again…

As far as preventing terrorist organizations from destroying civilization is concerned, the proposition being repeatedly made by Republicans that “you can’t fight something if you can’t accurately describe it” is also ridiculous. Obama can call ISIS Late For Dinner if he wants to, and still take effective steps to contain the group and others. I can’t remember ever experiencing such a long and intense debate over what something should be called, unless you count the Republican insistence that water-boarding isn’t torture after decades of the United States saying otherwise  in legal documents, treaties and places where English is spoken, That, however, was obviously deceitful wordplay to get around the law, lawyering at it’s worst. This is something else…but what is it?

Yesterday, poor Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson did the rounds of the Sunday morning talk shows, and was asked to explain the Administration’s weird rhetorical line in the sand repeatedly. Presumably he was prepared beforehand, yet the best he could do was probably the version he came up with on Fox News, saying on the topic:

” [T]he thing I hear from leaders in the Muslim community in this country is, “ISIL is attempting to hijack my religion. Our religion is about peace and brotherhood and ISIL is attempting to hijack that from us.” And they resent that. Most victims of ISIL are, in fact, Muslims. So it seems to me that to refer to ISIL as occupying any part of the Islamic theology is playing on a — a battlefield that they would like us to be on. I think that to call them — to call them some form of Islam gives the group more dignity than it deserves, frankly.”

Wait..what? That’s it? So this is meant to, like, hurt their feelings? Why not go whole hog, and call them “Smoosh-Face Poopy-Heads,” then, or something similar? We’re officially denying what everyone knows to be true because moderate Muslims don’t like sharing a religion with the radicals, so to be nice, were speaking Fantasy rather than English? Continue reading

175 Comments

Filed under Around the World, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Leadership, Religion and Philosophy, War and the Military

Comment of the Day: “The Washington Post Tries To Hide A Muslim Attack From Its Readers: What’s Going On Here? Or Rather, What The HELL Is Going On Here?”

islam

Rich (in CT) delivers his second Comment of the Day this month, as he delves into the complex ethical considerations affecting our understanding of the relationship between Islam and Islamic terrorists. (President Obama’s delusion notwithstanding, “What relationship?” is neither an honest nor responsible position.)  This is really two comments from Rich over the past 24 hours. Fascinating, thoughtful and helpful.

Here is Rich’s double-Comment of the Day, on the post, The Washington Post Tries To Hide A Muslim Attack From Its Readers: What’s Going On Here? Or Rather, What The HELL Is Going On Here?:

Continue reading

13 Comments

Filed under Around the World, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Religion and Philosophy

The Washington Post Tries To Hide A Muslim Attack From Its Readers: What’s Going On Here? Or Rather, What The HELL Is Going On Here?

Now, see, THIS Post has informative headlines...

Now, see, THIS Post has informative headlines…

I have no hidden agenda; I really would like to know.

Sharp-eyed media critic Ian Tuttle noticed how the Washington Post headlined a news story from Detroit in which a Muslim man, Terrence Lavaron Thomas, asked two strangers at a Southfield, Mich., bus stop whether or not they were Muslim and when they answered in the negative, stabbed them with a  knife. This was the headline:

wapo-headline1

What? That suggests the opposite of what happened!  We are told “conservatives” on social media objected. Really? Only conservatives are bothered by incompetent, misleading or intentionally false news reports? Anyway, the Post’s editors said, apparently, “Oh, all right, if you’re going to be all picky about it,” and changed the headline to this…

WaPo Muslim headline 2 - revised

Except that “Are you Muslim? No? THEN DIE, INFIDEL!!!” is not what I or any fair and rational person would call a “discussion.”  Once again those pesky “conservatives”—you know, the ones who don’t appreciate the press lying to them–complained, so again the Post changed the headline:

WaPo Muslim headline3

So now that irrelevant Muslim angle is missing entirely, because this has no possible relationship to  Muslim extremists around the world burning people alive, cutting off the heads of Christians, kidnapping and killing children or any of that nasty stuff. Continue reading

66 Comments

Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Religion and Philosophy

Instant Ethics Train Wreck: The Alabama Gay Marriage Stand-off

What does Dred Scott have to do with the Alabama gay marriage mess? Absolutely nothing.

What does Dred Scott have to do with the Alabama gay marriage mess? Absolutely nothing.

This summer, the Supreme Court will again take up the issue of the Constitutionality of state gay marriage bans, having left the question open (why, I don’t know) after striking down the Defense of Marriage Act in 2013. Since that ruling, the states have been busy little bees, some passing laws banning same-sex marriage, some doing the opposite, then fighting out multiple appeals at various levels of the judicial system. Three things are certain: the cultural and legal acceptance of same-sex marriage looks unstoppable; all states need to agree on what a legal marriage is; and some faith-based same-sex marriage opponents will not give in until the last dog dies.

Beginning at the end of last week, a messy situation in Alabama involving all of these factors burst into a full-fledged ethics train wreck. The links in this post will let you immerse yourself in the mess if you choose: I’m going to try to be clear. Here is what has transpired so far:

1) A federal judge, District Court Judge Callie V. Granade,  struck down the state’s ban  on same-sex marriages in January and said that Alabama could start issuing licenses last week unless the U.S. Supreme Court stepped in and stayed her order. A stay was immediately requested by the Alabama Attorney General, who properly defended the state’s law.

2.) The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals refused to step in and stop her order from going into effect.

3) The U.S. Supreme Court also refused the stay request, allowing marriages to proceed in Alabama.

4) Roy Moore, chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, reminded everyone that probate judges report to him, not the federal judge and not the Attorney General, and do not have to issue marriage licenses to gay couples until he tells them to. He told them not to.

5) Some Alabama probate judges followed Moore, and some went ahead and issued the licenses. Mass confusion reigned.

6) Meanwhile, the refusal of the U.S. Supreme Court to issue a stay pending its ruling on state same-sex marriage laws later this year was widely interpreted as tantamount to SCOTUS deciding the case before it was even argued.

7) Justice Clarence Thomas, in a dissent from the  majority’s rejection of the stay (we don’t know what the vote break was), argued that “This acquiescence may well be seen as a signal of the Court’s intended resolution of that question. This is not the proper way to discharge our . . . responsibilities.”

8) Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, meanwhile, appeared to endorse gay marriage in an interview.

9) Attempting to break the impasse, U.S. District Judge Callie V.S. Granade ordered Mobile County, Alabama to start issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, paving the way for resistant officials across the state to follow suit, in a decision stating that the state’s ban on same-sex marriage had been struck down and that ­Mobile County’s probate judge had to adhere to that decision.

10) Chief Justice Moore remains unmoved, but now most of the probate judges are following the federal order.

Got that?

Good, now you can explain it to me.

What a mess.

Here are the ethics verdicts on the participants so far: Continue reading

51 Comments

Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, History, Incompetent Elected Officials, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions, Religion and Philosophy, Rights, Romance and Relationships, U.S. Society

Presenting Rationalization #48: Ethics Jiu Jitsu, or “Haters Gonna Hate!”

Haters gonna hate

Because winning makes everything right…

I was enlightened regarding the prevalence of this latest addition to the rationalizations list in the desperate reactions from some football fans on Facebook to my recent (absolutely valid and indisputable) criticism of the National Football League. Thus does conflict expand our wisdom and horizons…

Rationalization #48:

Ethics Jiu Jitsu, or “Haters Gonna Hate!”

This vintage obnoxious rationalization is recently pressed. Its objective is to turn the tables on legitimate critics of unethical conduct by asserting that it is the act of criticism itself that is wrong, thus allowing the object of the criticism to not only escape unscathed, but to claim victim status.

Ethics Jiu Jitsu is similar to the #6, the Biblical rationalizations “Judge not, lest ye not be judged,” and “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone,”  except that those are used (incorrectly) to suggest that nobody is good enough to criticize the conduct of others, not that the act of criticism is inherently hateful. The insidious trick that this rationalization embodies thrives on the modern criminalization of hate in the culture. Hate is just very intense dislike, and as a feeling, it is well within the realm of personal rights.  Hate crime is a variety of thought-crime. The politically-motivated legal monstrosities known as “hate crimes”  have inspired this rationalization  by making it plausible to argue that dislike itself is wrong, even when what is being disliked, criticized or hated is objectively wrongful conduct. All “haters” are lumped together, whether the object of hate is Lance Armstrong’s cheating, the NFL’s conspiracy to hide the effects of concussions, or Barack Obama’s ineptitude, in a linguistic trick that suggests that sincere critics are no different from people who hate the United States, minorities, decency, true love and puppies. They are all haters, hate is bad, and it’s the haters who are the problem, not the corruption, dishonesty, and betrayals they criticize.

In truth, those who don’t have the ethical bearings, the courage or the civic responsibility to criticize unethical conduct in the culture are the real problem as we strive for an ethical culture. They can often be identified by their mouthing of the fatuous accusation, “Haters gotta hate!”

50 Comments

Filed under Law & Law Enforcement, Religion and Philosophy, Rights

Comment of the Day: “Ethics Alarms Encore: ‘Aesop’s Unethical and Misleading Fable: The North Wind and the Sun”

AESOPSFABLNever let it be said that we aren’t eclectic on Ethics Alarms! Today’s Comment of the Day is a thoughtful response to my objections to Aesop’s “The North Wind and the Sun,” a 2011 post that I republished this week in fascination over how it continues to draw traffic. The thread here and on the original has touched on many diverse topics, including theology; commenter Rich (in CT), however, just submitted the most interesting analysis yet.

Here is his Comment of the Day on the post, Ethics Alarms Encore: “Aesop’s Unethical and Misleading Fable: The North Wind and the Sun:

”The comparison of God and Satan in Job to the Sun and Wind is an apt comparison, because the fable relies on “divine privilege”. An exercise of divine privilege should not be taken as an example of behavior that non-divine entities should emulate. Rather, they are external parameters that set up a hypothetical environment to illustrate the lesson of the story.

I specifically say “lesson”, because the objective of the story need not be a superficial “moral”. The “moral” that was selected here was a lazy plot device by an author who attempted to pigeon-hole the fable into his limited definition of a fable. While the particular moral in the version you share is useless, the fable perhaps might better illustrate both the use of strategic thinking and well as illustrate the role of moral luck in one’s success. A more apt “moral”, if any, might be to be clever, but acknowledge the limit of cleverness.

Ethical behavior never takes place in a vacuum, but must balance certain principles with the current circumstances. In the fable, an arbitrary task is selected, and the two actors use the tools at their disposal to attempt to achieve the task. The wind has two tools: blow hard or soft; the sun has analogous tools: beat hard or soft. Given the task, arbitrarily set up as a competition, only one had tools that could creatively solve the task.

The tale here thus illustrates a few important principles that are of value to a child; creative use of ones tools can lead to success, and that not everyone has a every tool available. A non-lazy author might use the fable to teach the value of cooperation, pooling a group’s tools to complete a task.

The particular task is irrelevant, and is set up as an exercise of divine privilege. Mere mortals have no right to manipulate the weather, but the fable’s embodiment of the solar rays and moving air manipulate these elements in an ethically neutral manner. The selection of a mere mortal as a target of task, might be to lead the reader indirectly, through empathy, to the conclusion that some circumstances are arbitrary and beyond one’s control. The objective might be to teach humility, that one is never entirely responsible for one’s success, no matter how clever one might be.

I thus agree that the particular version of the fable shared is unethical. This is, however, the result of a lazy author. The premise, if used wisely, is ethically neutral; Aesop, or some other interpreter, could use the premise of the story to teach a valuable lesson if so desired.

 

6 Comments

Filed under Childhood and children, Education, History, Literature, Religion and Philosophy