Ethics Quote Of The Month: The 1776 Report

1776 report

A more recently proposed remedy is called the “New Civics” (or “Action Civics”). The progressive approach to education rests on the faulty notion that knowledge concerning long-term human and social concerns is divided between “facts” (scientific data separated from judgments about right and wrong) and “values” (preferences about moral matters, such as justice, which are said to have no objective status). Most students, yearning to make the world better, find the study of “facts” boring and meaningless. The New Civics approach is to prioritize a values-oriented praxis over fact-based knowledge. As a result, New Civics uses direct community service and political action (such as protesting for gun control or lobbying for laws to address climate change) to teach students to bring change to the system itself. Under this guise, civics education becomes less about teaching civic knowledge and more about encouraging contemporary policy positions…”

—-From the section on civic education in the 33-page report of the “1776 Commission,” which was charged with stating the bedrock values and principles underlying the United States of America since its founding, and how to honor them, strengthen them, and preserve them.

The 1776 Commission’s mission was to “enable a rising generation to understand the history and principles of the founding of the United States in 1776 and to strive to form a more perfect Union.”

The Commission did a pretty good job; not perfect, by any means. It’s a big improvement over the “1619 Project,” which schools immediately began using in curriculum, though that is admittedly faint praise. Historians, who belong to a discipline that has been almost completely co-opted by progressive bias, mocked the report for, for example, suggestion that the public schools and universities teach anti-Americanism. TAnti-whie, ant-American BU professor and race-huckster Ibram X. Kendri tweeted that “this report makes it seems as if …. the demise of slavery in the United States was inevitable.”

The demise of slavery was made inevitable with the signing of the Declaration of Independence, and yes, public schools and universities are indeed indoctrinating students against America and core U.S. cultural values.

I recommend reading the full report, here.

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Inauguration Day Ethics Warm-Up, 1/20/2021: Welcome And Good Luck, President Biden!

Biden P

1. Too late! Fox News fired Chris Stirewalt yesterday. He is the veteran politics editor who was the prime onscreen face of the supposedly conservative-tilting network’s election night projections that Joseph Biden . had defeated President Trump in Arizona. Arnon Mishkin, a long-time Democratic Party pollster, was Fox News decision desk chief for the 2020 presidential election. He called the state of Arizona and its 11 electoral votes for Joe Biden at 11:20 p.m. Eastern time on election night, not long after the polls closed. Fox news anchor Bill Hemmer, standing at the Fox News election map, expressed surprise. “What is happening here? Why is Arizona blue?” he asked. “Did we just call it? Did we just make a call in Arizona?”

Stirewalt quickly came onscreen to defend the network’s decision, explaining that vote margins were too great in Arizona for the Republican candidate to overcome. He assured viewers that “We’re going to be careful, cautious, and earnest,” adding that “Arizona is doing just what we expected it to do and we remain serene and pristine. He dismissed voter fraud claims, “Lawsuits, schmawsuits — we haven’t seen any evidence yet that there’s anything wrong.” Mishkin also came on camera later to defend the call. I found him supercilious and obnoxious.

Reflecting on the decision to fire Stirewalt, the usual media suspects are pointing out that in the end, Fox’s call was correct. That’s pure moral luck. Fox News was the first news outlet to call Arizona for Biden, anmd when your brand is the news network that balances the hard progressive, Democratic, anti-Trump bias of 95% of the news media, that’s a stupid unforced error. Stirewalt has to be aware of the company’s brand and best interests. Why jump the gun to call a state Trump probably needed to win? Furthermore, Stirewalt’s “Arizona is doing just what we expected it to do” sounded like spin, because it was. The polls, including Fox’s, had already been proven wildly off, and the voting “expectations” were based on polling.

It would not have cost Fox anything to wait to call Arizona, especially since networks declaring winners in states is subjective, unnecessary, and arguably manipulative. Regular Fox viewers were alienated, and this was predictable. President Trump denounced the networkand urged supporters to watch Newsmax and One America News instead. He should not have done that, but it was also predictable. Stirewalt was substantially responsible for losing Fox News viewers and revenue, and accomplished nothing.

He deserved to be fired. I would have fired him too.

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My Unethical Inauguration Trivia Question

Washington Inaug

Today began with an unethical Presidential trivia question from a friend, who couldn’t even wait for me to get up, and left it with Grace. The question? “What was the warmest Presidential inauguration?” His answer: Gerald Ford, who was sworn in after President Nixon resigned on August 9, 1974, and it was 89 degrees. However, the question was misleading (and knowing this guy, deliberately so), especially since it was asked on Inauguration Day, which is what we generally mean when we we refer to a President’s inauguration. Vice-Presidents who take over the job don’t get “inaugurations,” although it is technically correct to call the beginning of anything an inauguration. Have you ever heard or read about Lyndon Johnson’s swearing in on Air Force One on November 22, 1963 as his “inauguration” after President Kennedy was assassinated? Neither have I. He was “sworn in.” A Presidential Inauguration with an upper case “I” always refers to Inauguration DAY, but as my wife pointed out, you can’t tell over the phone whether a word is capitalized.

Millard Fillmore was also sworn into office during a Washington, D.C. summer, on July 10, 1850, after President Taylor expired. I can’t find any reference to the temperature, but it often tops 90 in July here. If we are discussing Inaugurations with a big I, Ronald Reagan gets credit for the warmest modern ceremony at 55 degrees for his first term , and also the modern record for the coldest January D.C. day at 7 degrees when he took his second oath.

My guess this morning, without checking, was that the warmest Inauguration record belongs to George Washington. The first inauguration ceremony was held on the balcony of Federal Hall in New York City on April 30, 1789. (It had been delayed from the original March date because such a throng was expected, and more time was needed to prepare.) Accounts say there was sunshine and a temperature of around 60 degrees for that event. (That’s another problem with my annoying friend’s “gotcha!” question: weather stats for the 19th and 18th century are often sketchy.) I think my guess is probably right, too. After George Washington, the inauguration date became March 4th where it stayed until 1937; it was changed to January 20th. If the day falls on a Sunday, the event is moved to the 21st.

Ethics Reflections, 1/19/2021: Good-Bye, Thanks, And On Behalf Of America, I’m Sorry, President Trump

Trump 2020

As I have said before, every American President is owed the thanks and gratitude of U.S. citizens. It is a hard job, a lonely job and a often killing job. Nobody takes it on without suffering and sacrificing a great deal. Nobody takes it on and accepts the massive responsibilities the job entails without wanting to do a good job for his country and fellow citizens. Those who say or think otherwise are broadcasting their ignorance, and failing their own civic responsibilities.

Donald J. Trump was a fascinating President. All 45 have been different, but he is a true outlier, in background, experience, and orientation. I was never a supporter of Trump when he ran, nor an admirer before he ran, nor an enthusiastic adherent when he was in office. As an observer, a presidential history fanatic and a student of leadership and presidential character, I found him to be infuriating, surprising, troubling, and in the end admirable in some ways.

He was also surprisingly successful, though the news media would never give him credit, and though much of what he was successful at upset progressives, to put it mildly. President Trump was unlucky, but many Presidents are; a game I used to play was naming a period in U.S. history when a great President would have failed and another when a “failed” President would have been great. Trump was ultimately defeated by a worldwide pandemic that ruined the excellent economy that his policies had largely created. I doubt that the despicable effort by the AUC to blame the extent of the pandemic on him was ultimately the reason for his defeat; American Presidents usually get the credit when things are good, and get the blame when they aren’t, regardless of the reasons. One of the Big Lies wielded by Trump’s foes was that everything was terrible when in fact things were remarkably good. The pandemic ensured that much was terrible for many months leading up to the election. Few, if any, Presidents could have been re-elected under such conditions.

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From The Ethics Alarms “What Were They Thinking?” Files: The Weiner Virus

Blockhead

I don’t understand this kind of thing at all. I didn’t understand it when Anthony Weiner nuked his career; I haven’t understood it in similar cases before and since then. The current episode comes from the world of baseball, which apparently had a vote or something last year that all news about the sport had to be embarrassing until the stars turn cold.

Jared Porter, who labored in the trenches for the Boston Red Sox from 2004-15 (there was obviously another vote that all of the worst stories had to be connected to the team I’ve rooted for like a fool since I was 11) and finally scaled the metaphorical ladder and got his dream job, becoming general manager of the New York Mets last month. But the team discovered yesterday that in 2016, while he was was working for the Chicago Cubs in their front office, Porter sent graphic, uninvited text messages and images to a female sports reporter, includingso-called “dick-pics.”

Mets owner Steve Cohen said Porter was fired this morning. “We have terminated Jared Porter this morning,” Cohen wrote on Twitter. “In my initial press conference I spoke about the importance of integrity and I meant it. There should be zero tolerance for this type of behavior.”

Ya think?

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Law Vs. Fallacy: The Jurisprudence Of Justice Sotomayor

us-supreme-court-justice-sonia-sotomayor

I haven’t been moved to do the research, but I would not be surprised if Barack Obama is owed the prize for the worst nomination for the U.S. Supreme Court ever to be confirmed by the Senate. That would be Sonia Sotomayor, the self-described “wise Latina” who was picked using the same criteria that led to Joe Biden choosing Kamala Harris as his VP: checking the right boxes. Obama was seeking a Hispanic judge (another first!) and a woman, but managed to choose a judge with weak credentials whose selection insulted better judges, female judges and Hispanic judges who were more qualified than her, and there were a lot of them. Since her confirmation, Sotomayor has introduced touchy-feely “compassionate” arguments exactly where they should never show their mushy heads: in Supreme Court oral arguments and opinions. Some of her opinions read as if they were composed by anyone with a law degree, though her law clerks are expert at stuffing them with the requisite number of case cites for appearances sake.

The latest example of Soromayor’s sentimental hackery was her dissent in the case of U.S. v. Dustin John Higgs, in which the Court, by a 6-3 vote (guess the three!) turned down the writ of certiorari of a man convicted of kidnapping and murdering three women, and sentenced to death. Justice Sotomayor began,

After seventeen years without a single federal execution,the Government has executed twelve people since July. They are Daniel Lee, Wesley Purkey, Dustin Honken, Lezmond Mitchell, Keith Nelson, William LeCroy Jr., Christopher Vialva, Orlando Hall, Brandon Bernard, Alfred Bourgeois, Lisa Montgomery, and, just last night, Corey Johnson. Today, Dustin Higgs will become the thirteenth. To put that in historical context, the Federal Government will have executed more than three times as many people in the last six months than it had in the previous six decades.

Such an approach is a logical fallacy called “appeal to emotion.” That’s not law, that’s sentiment, assuming one is moved to tears by the idea of multiple convicted murderers finally being executed after years of expensive appeals and stalls. Sotomayor seems to think the fact that the “Federal Government will have executed more than three times as many people in the last six months than it had in the previous six decades” and that it was 17 years before the Trump administration did what should have been done all along has more than trivia value. So what? The U.S. has a death penalty, and finally has decided to follow through on it. Good.

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The Supreme Court And Taylor Swift Ethics

It is generally regarded as a sign of ethics, courage and character to take action “on principle.” In theory, this means that non-ethical considerations (like enrichment, power and popularity) are not the actor’s goals; making a statement for the enlightenment of society is. However, actions on principle can often be quixotic and even silly, causing greater damage, as well as wasting time and money, “on principle” than the message is worth. The folly was nicely illustrated in the ancient burlesque skit above known as “Pay the Two Dollars.”

The issue of how far it was reasonable to go “on principle” was recently explored, of all places, in the U.S. Supreme Court in the oral argument of the case Uzuegbunam v. Preczewski.

Chike Uzuegbunam, a student at Georgia’s Gwinnett College in Lawrenceville, was threatened with discipline under the school’s speech code that violated his and other student’s First Amendment rights. He sued the college but it quickly backed down, eliminating its speech restrictions and replacing them with one that allows students to “speak anywhere on campus and at any time without having to first obtain a permit.” State officials said the change made the case moot. A trial judge agreed, and the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, in Atlanta, affirmed her ruling.

Uzuegbunam and his student supporters, however, felt strongly that an official declaration that their rights had been violated was important, and they appealed on the grounds that they should be able to pursue their case for nominal damages. This was the issue that got the case before SCOTUS.

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Evening Ethics Night-Cap, 1/18/2021: What A Terrible Bunch Of People!

nightcap

1. Wow. Now that’s a sex scandal even in France! Olivier Duhamel, a prominent French political scientist, radio show host and television commentator has quit his media and university posts after being accused of committing incest with his teenage stepson more than 30 years ago. His resignations included the Sciences Po university, where Duhamel, now 70, headed the body overseeing the renowned Paris institution. A book called “La Familia Grande,” just published and written by one of his stepchildren, revealed that Duhamel abused her twin brother beginning when he was 14. The brother told the news media, “I confirm that what my sister has written about the actions of Olivier Duhamel toward me is correct.”

Addressing her step-father directly in the book, Camille Kouchner wrote: “I am going to explain to you who sound off on the radio, you who offer the gift of your analysis to students, and strut about on TV stages. I am going to explain that you could, at least, have said sorry.”

Now there is a #MeToo-style incest movement in France, #Metooinceste, with over 20,000 tweets so far posted on accounts of people who say they had been sexually abused as children by adult family members.

2. This would be pretty embarrassing, if only the news media had the integrity to point it out. DC AG Karl Racine pronounced himself outraged that anyone would compare the Black Lives Matter riots to the Capitol riot. Last week, Racine called comparisons (accompanied by accusations of double standards and hypocrisy), “shocking and outrageous.”

Right. The BLM riots resulted in at least 8 dead, hundreds of wounded officers, and over $2 billion in damages. The D.C. installment of the riots attacked the White House and injured 150 officers. 60 members of the Secret Service’s Uniformed Division were injured holding off the mob while President Trump and his family were taken to a bunker. 65 Park Police officers were wounded and 11 had to be hospitalized, as compared to the January 6 toll of 60 Capitol Police and 58 D.C. cops injured.

One difference is that Democrats and the media accused police of violently assaulting “peaceful protesters” instead of condemning the BLM mob whose members threw bricks, bottles, fireworks, and bodily fluids at law enforcement officers. The BLM rioters set the White House gatehouse and the Church of the Presidents on fire. D.C. Democrats responded by demanding law enforcement leave and naming a plaza “Black Lives Matter.”

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Here’s Another Unethical Trend To Dread As Progressives Grab The Reins: “Trauma-Informed Justice”

TIJ

Trauma-informed justice, also called “victim-centered” justice, is becoming the cool new thing as woke anti-civil rights activists seek to get around due process and the presumption of innocence when it suits their agenda. The technique involves an interview methodology where the police prioritize empathy for accusers, who are automatically presumed to be victims. The methodology is especially favored for allegations of sexual abuse and domestic violence, where the accusers are overwhelmingly female: this a “believe all victims as long as they are wo,men” anti-male approach that has its roots in the feminist movement. The methodology was refined by Russell Strand, U.S. Military Police School, who offered the Forensic Experiential Trauma Interview (FETI) as a way to question presumed victims without making them relive an assault.

The theory dictates that police conduct investigations following three principles:

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The Tragically Warped Legacy Of Martin Luther King, Jr.

King

Ethics Alarms has posted several paeans to the iconic civil rights leader on his “day” is the past, but it is time—past time, really—for a more rueful and honest assessment of his legacy. No one can (or should, anyway) deny King’s crucial role in eliminating segregation in the United States, killing Jim Crow, and prompting long-overdue legal and cultural reforms, epitomized by the 1964 Civil Rights Act. King’s words have continued to inspire while serving as guideposts for the nation’s journey, still infuriatingly incomplete, to a society where citizens are judged “by the content of their character” rather than the color of their skin. But in 2021, a celebration of King and his legacy seem particularly hypocritical. His alleged followers have transitioned to a cynical strategy of encouraging a national mentality that accepts that the color of an American’s skin defines the content of their character, or to put it another way, that race is the most important feature, factor and consideration in American life.

This is a perversion of what Dr. King stood for, but that is the status of his legacy today. Most of what I mention in this post is old news that we have discussed before, but there are, as there now are virtually every day, additional examples of this corrosive use of race to divide and corrupt society. In this morning’s New York Times Arts section, for example, an article headlined “Bringing on New Leaders For Diversity In The Arts” told us that “cultural institutions around the country are hiring their own diversity officers to increase the number of people of color on the staff and board, broaden their programming and address a widely acknowledged pattern of systemic racism.” Translated, all this statement means is that, cowed by routine accusations of racism, arts groups are substituting one undeniable system of racism for an unproven one. People are being hired and appointed because of their skin color alone, or certainly over all other reasons. This is not, of course, restricted to the arts. The idea that skin-shade equals talent and virtue has been embodied at the very top of our government. The soon-to-be official Vice-President of the United States is in that position solely because she is “of color” as well as female. Her character, ability, experience and accomplishments have nothing to do with the responsibility and high office handed to her: she was roundly rejected by the members of the public who belong to her party when running on the basis of those factors. “Diversity” is a cover-word for discrimination. Dr. King was not asking for quotas in his protests, speeches and marches: he was demanding that blacks like him be given the opportunity to succeed on the same basis as whites, judged, rewarded and advanced without regard to their race.

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