Category Archives: Religion and Philosophy

Ethical Quote Of The Week: GOP Senator And Presidential Candidate Lindsey Graham

lindsey_graham

You know what, I’m not your candidate. I don’t want you to vote for me. I couldn’t disagree with you more.”

-South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham during an election event in Des Moines, Iowa, after an Iowan Republican in the crowd.suggested banning Islam.

Later Graham said, “He’s got a right to say whatever he wants to say, but I have an obligation to the Republican Party, to the people of Iowa and the country as a whole to be firm on this. I’m not buying into that construct. That’s not the America that I want to lead.”

I will await the first Democratic Party candidate who demonstrates similar integrity with an equivalent reply to a supporter who advocates banning hate speech.

I suspect I will wait until the stars turn cold.

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Quotes, Government & Politics, Leadership, Religion and Philosophy, Rights

July Fourth Ethics: On Liberty And Freedom

US-original-Declaration-1776

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

—-The Declaration of Independence

“It is my living sentiment, and by the blessing of God it shall be my dying sentiment, independence now and independence forever. “

—-Daniel Webster, U.S. politician and orator

“Liberty is the soul’s right to breathe, and when it cannot take a long breath, laws are girdled too tight.”

—-Henry Ward Beecher, abolitionist.

“Without an unfettered press, without liberty of speech, all of the outward forms and structures of free institutions are a sham, a pretense – the sheerest mockery. If the press is not free; if speech is not independent and untrammeled; if the mind is shackled or made impotent through fear, it makes no difference under what form of government you live, you are a subject and not a citizen.”

—- Senator William Borah (R-ID), 1917

 “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”

—-George Orwell
Continue reading

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A Jumbo For Sulu

SuluGeorge Takei, the Japanese-America actor permanently enshrined in pop culture history for his role of Sulu in the original “Star Trek” TV series. He has essentially lived off that one felicitous part for forty years, recently acquiring less moldy,  non-sci-fi following by being a gay rights advocate.

Takei recently skimmed, or just didn’t comprehend, Clarence Thomas’s  audacious dissent to the Supreme Court’s Obergefell ruling and Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion declaring same-sex marriage to be a fundamental right protected by the Constitution. Apparently he also does not comprehend that Supreme Court dissents are both stimulating and useful to legal scholars as well as those, unlike Mr. Sulu, possessing an open and curious mind.

Thomas made the unusual but provocative argument that human dignity is innate:

Human dignity has long been understood in this country to be innate. When the Framers proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equal” and “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,” they referred to a vision of mankind in which all humans are created in the image of God and therefore of inherent worth. That vision is the foundation upon which
this Nation was built.

The corollary of that principle is that human dignity cannot be taken away by the government. Slaves did not lose their dignity (any more than they lost their humanity) because the government allowed them to be enslaved. Those held in internment camps did not lose their dignity because the government confined them. And those denied governmental benefits certainly do not lose their dignity because the government denies them those benefits. The government cannot bestow dignity, and it cannot take it away.

Thomas was expressing  his disagreement with the majority that the government withholding the right to marry from gays robbed them of human dignity. I think it is a rather pedantic argument that has more validity in the abstract than in reality, but the position that rights come from creation rather than the government is a core concept in the Declaration of Independence, and one that statists, as in “modern Democrats,” like to ignore. If individuals are born with rights, they cannot be truly taken away. If citizens must look to the government to have their rights granted to them, then government is granted too much power in exchange. Thomas’s philosophical argument is classic conservatism. Naturally, that means, in Takei’s intolerant and partyist world view, that he deserves abuse. Continue reading

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The Great “Gotcha!”: Walmart Exposed As The Cynical Corporate Hypocrite It Is

ISIS-Cake

I don’t generally approve of “gotchas,” but you have to love this.

After Walmart’s CEO piously announced that his chain aims to never offend a single customer and was thus banning everything with a Confederate flag in it, on it, or around it, Chuck Netzhammer went to a Walmart in Louisiana and requested a cake decorated with the taboo flag’s image. He was refused. Then he asked to have a cake decorated with the ISIS battle flag. Walmart happily obliged! After all, who’s offended by ISIS?

Netzhammer then posted a video memorializing Walmart’s hypocrisy, saying on it that the Islamic State “is beheading Christians, selling little girls into slavery and is currently a terrorist org at war with the United States — but you can’t buy the General Lee toy car …?”

Yup, that’s about the size of it. Continue reading

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Ethics Observations On The King v. Burwell and Obergefell v. Hodges Decisions And Their Aftermath

supreme-court

 Obergefell v. Hodges, in which the Supreme Court considered whether states had to recognize a right to same-sex marriages, and King v. Burwell, in which the Court was called upon to clarify some incompetent drafting in the Affordable Care Act, could not be more dissimilar in terms of issues, topics, and significance. Nonetheless, because the two decisions involved hot political issues and arrived on consecutive days, and because they ended up favoring the positions that Democratic and progressive partisans support, they have been conglomerated in public discourse to fit several general themes, all, to varying degrees, misleading, simplistic, and biased. The decisions have also launched some of the most hysterical and embarrassing commentary in recent memory.

Some ethics, as opposed to legal, observations:

1. Anyone who hasn’t read the majority opinions and the dissents, who just skimmed them—believe me, if law school taught me anything, it taught me that skimming court opinions was a sure road to error and humiliation—or who read them but could not understand them, should be ignored, and perhaps gently mocked, for expressing any view at all about whether the decisions were the “right” ones. Quite simply, such people are not qualified to hold an opinion. They can have, and express, an opinion regarding whether the Court’s calls on Burwell or Obergefell are consistent with their own needs, desires, belief or political orientation, but they have no basis for asserting that either decision is wrong, or, right, on the law.

2. One can find it troubling and ominous, as I do, that the votes on the two cases were as predictable as they were. Objective legal scholars with integrity should be capable of ruling in ways that are not congruent with the personal political philosophies. A Democratic Presidential appointee who favors expansive government activity in health care control should be able to look at a statute designed to accomplish that purpose and still conclude, “Nope, the law mean what they want it to mean,” or “Sorry, the damn thing is unconstitutional.” Similarly, we should be able to trust a politically conservative justice to examine a statute that he objects to on principle and still conclude, “Yup, it passes the test.” Maybe all the Justices are capable of meeting this standard, but these two cases don’t suggest that. They suggest the opposite. Continue reading

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Filed under Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Religion and Philosophy, Rights, Romance and Relationships, U.S. Society

Apology Scale Rating Verdict: Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s Pre-sentencing Statement

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Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the young terrorist who was formally sentenced to die for his role in the April 2013 Boston Marathon bombing,, finally said something in court before judgment was passed: he apologized, somewhere in the middle of an infomercial for Islam.

You can read the whole statement here. This is the apology section:

The Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, said that if you do not — if you are not merciful to Allah’s creation, Allah will not be merciful to you, so I’d like to now apologize to the victims, to the survivors.

Immediately after the bombing, which I am guilty of — if there’s any lingering doubt about that, let there be no more. I did do it along with my brother — I learned of some of the victims. I learned their names, their faces, their age. And throughout this trial more of those victims were given names, more of those victims had faces, and they had burdened souls.

Now, all those who got up on that witness stand and that podium related to us — to me — I was listening — the suffering that was and the hardship that still is, with strength and with patience and with dignity. Now, Allah says in the Quran that no soul is burdened with more than it can bear, and you told us just how unbearable it was, how horrendous it was, this thing I put you through. And I know that you kept that much. I know that there isn’t enough time in the day for you to have related to us everything. I also wish that far more people had a chance to get up there, but I took them from you.

Now, I am sorry for the lives that I’ve taken, for the suffering that I’ve caused you, for the damage that I’ve done, irreparable damage.

Now, I am a Muslim. My religion is Islam. The God I worship, besides whom there is no other God, is Allah. And I prayed for Allah to bestow his mercy upon the deceased, those affected in the bombing and their families. Allah says in the Quran that with every hardship there is relief. I pray for your relief, for your healing, for your well-being, for your strength.

Where does this apology rate on the Ethics Alarms Apology Scale? There are few important features to note: Continue reading

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Dear Republican Presidential Candidates Trying To Cast The Charleston Shooting As An Attack On Religious Freedom: Shut Up, Please. You’re Embarrassing Yourselves.

PLEASE-SHUT-UP!

PLEASE-SHUT-UP!

I really thought that nothing could be as cynical and divisive as the President’s attempt to exploit the Charleston massacre for political objectives.

Why do I always underestimate the crass stupidity of Republicans?

“You just can’t think that things like this can happen in America. It’s obviously a crime of hate,” GOP Presidential candidate Rick Santorum told radio host Joe Piscopo yesterday—yes, that’s what Joe is doing now. Rick waxed on…

“Again, we don’t know the rationale, but what other rationale could there be? You’re sort of lost that somebody could walk into a Bible study in a church and indiscriminately kill people. It’s something that, again, you think we’re beyond that in America and it’s sad to see. All you can do is pray for those and pray for our country This is one of those situations where you just have to take a step back and say we — you know, you talk about the importance of prayer in this time and we’re now seeing assaults on our religious liberty we’ve never seen before. It’s a time for deeper reflection beyond this horrible situation.”

Now here is Lindsey Graham, also running for President: “It’s 2015. There are people out there looking for Christians to kill them.” Sen. Rand Paul, a reliable dolt, also weighed in with the same theme:

“What kind of person goes into church and shoots nine people? There’s a sickness in our country, there’s something terribly wrong, but it isn’t going to be fixed by your government. It’s people straying away, it’s people not understanding where salvation comes from.”

This is shameless, shameful, and stupid beyond all understanding. Gee, guys, did you notice any other common characteristics of the people attacked? Does that seem like just a coincidence to you? Did you detect any special feature about the killer that might suggest another motivation other than infringing on freedom of worship? Continue reading

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