Naming Ethics: A Boy Named Hades

A couple in France really, really wants to name their baby “Hades” because they think the name sounds good. France, however, can legally prohibit a child’s name if bureaucrats determine that the name is not in the child’s best interest, and “Hades” has been dinged. The future Hades’s folks have hired lawyers to challenge the ruling.

That’s Hades above in the Disney animated film “Hercules.” The character was voiced by James Woods, so you know he was a bad guy. The film was a bit unfair: in the Greek myth universe, Hades just ruled over the Underworld, and was no worse (or better) than his brothers Zeus and Poseidon; he wasn’t like the devil. When you died, you went to Hades whether you were good, bad, or average. Nevertheless, it’s a strange name to use in 2023, and one with inevitable negative connotations (the name “James Woods” wouldn’t be great either).

That doesn’t mean France presuming to tell parents what they can name their kid isn’t an abuse of power, a slippery slope, and an incursion on personal liberty. It is all of those, and the parents of little Hades are properly standing up for a principle that is worth fighting for.

If only they weren’t using their innocent child as a prop for their ideals. This is a bright-line violation of Kant’s Categorical Imperative, which directs us never to use a human being to achieve our ends, however worthy they might be.  Using a child is particularly unethical…but so is giving your kid a bizarre name. Continue reading

Ethics Hero: Avi Silverberg, Whose Pronouns Are “Whatever Lets Me Win”

Avi Silverberg, a Canadian male powerlifting coach, self-identified as a woman last week to participate in the women’s Heroes Classic Powerlifting Meet in Lethbridge, Alberta. (That’s “her” above.) As the current record holder, a transgender male-now-female, looked on, the large, bearded athlete broke the Alberta women’s bench press record. Appropriately, Avi didn’t even try to look like a girl. Priceless.

Silverberg could do this “fair and square” because the truly stupid Canadian Powerlifting Union (CPU) had established a liberal gender self-identification policy (the “Trans Inclusion Policy”) earlier this year, so any male can now compete as a woman as long as he/she feels like a woman on that particular day. “Based on this background and available evidence, the Expert Working Group felt that trans athletes should be able to participate in the gender with which they identify, regardless of whether or not they have undergone hormone therapy,” the policy document reads, deferring to the “inclusivity” guidance from the CCES (The Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport)

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When Ethics Alarms Don’t Ring:

Josselyn Berry, Arizona governor Katie Hobbs’s press secretary, was somehow moved to tweet this…

…just days after a transgender former student went into a Christian school and shot six people dead, including three nine-year-olds. But hey, that should teach anyone who criticizes pro-trans mania to watch what they say, right?

First Berry shuttered her Twitter account, then she resigned.

A few observations:

  • I continue to find it fascinating that the same party that flogs the talking point that conservatives peddle hate and incite violence constantly does things like this. Here, for example, is Minnesota’s Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan:

Nice! Funny, I would argue that kids need to be protected from adults trying to convince them that they need puberty blockers and other life-altering treatments that should be hidden from their parents, but I wouldn’t use a knife to do it.

  • In addition to the other things wrong with Berry’s tweet, it’s spectacularly bad timing to condemn “transphobia” after a trans individual has gone on a killing spree.
  • This is exactly the kind of tweet Twitter should just leave out there. It’s useful to know what such tweeters are really like, especially when an elected official employs them.

Welcome To “Bad Research Theater”!

Yes, it’s Alistair Cookie, here for another episode—two, in fact!—of that long-running exhibition loved by the confirmation bias-infected and the unscrupulous alike, “Bad Research Theater”!

Episode I : “The Steam Engines of Galapagos

The eye-opening scholarly paper “The end of the line: competitive exclusion and the extinction of historical entities” has been published the journal, “Royal Society Open Science.” Bruce Lieberman, professor of ecology & evolutionary biology and senior curator of invertebrate paleontology at the KU Biodiversity Institute & Natural History Museum, uses the history of railroad steam engines history to argue against the merits of “competitive exclusion,” the respected paleontology evolution principle that species can drive other species to extinction through competition.

Working with former KU postdoctoral researcher Luke Strotz, now of Northwest University in Xi’an, China, Lieberman found that the fossil record lacks the detailed data verifying competitive exclusion found in the history of steam engines. Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m convinced!

Many years ago, as a boy trying to bring in distant baseball broadcasts at night on my transister radio, I stumbled across a rural evangelist who was ranting about the godlessness of evolution. “Evolution says that if you put a six cylinder engine in your garage and let it sit there for a million years or so, when you come back and check on it, it will have become an eight cylinder engine!” he said, chuckling heartily. I thought that was the dumbest thing I had heard to that point in my life, and it still is in the top five. Little did I suspect that his idea of comparing mechanical objects with live organisms would be adopted decades later by actual scientists.

Episode II : Anything to Throw Them Off the Track

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Now THAT’S An Incompetent Principal!

Jan McGee was the principal at Burns Science and Technology Charter School in Oak Hill, Florida. Everything at the school of about 1,000 students from kindergarten through 12th grade was going swimmingly until Jan ended up in a long-running online friendship with Elon Musk, or so she thought.

I know how exciting it can be suddenly having a famous celebrity billionaire contacting you and emerging as your pal: I once was emailed by this cool Nigerian prince.

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Incompetent Punditry, Irresponsible Paper: The Boston Globe Publishes An Op-Ed Called “DEI Denial Is The Modern Day Lynching”

It really did.

There may have been equally dumb headlines and op-ed pieces, but I can’t imagine what a worse one would be. This is what I get for being a Red Sox fan: the Boston Globe used to have the best baseball coverage in the U.S. back when I was still in Boston, so I return to it periodically when the baseball season looms. This was my reward: an example of deranged, arrogant, dissent-demonizing wokism that should never have been published, and wouldn’t be by a responsible newspaper, if there were such a thing any more.

Criticizing the cynical Diversity/Equity/Inclusion fad that was one of the many mutations of policy and logic to ooze out of the George Floyd Freakout is the equivalent of murdering innocent black men in the Deep South! Of course! What a brilliant analogy! Or perhaps it is more like…let’s see… making a Nash Rambler model out of clubroot and old Silly Putty?

The author of this brain-rotting garbage is Ya’Ke Smith , an associate professor of film at the University of Texas at Austin. Doesn’t that background just scream out: “public policy expert”? The silly rant signals repeatedly that it is just passionate woke nonsense unhinged to facts. For example, he writes, “the execution of George Floyd in Minneapolis.” That’s signature significance: no honest writer or one who cares at all about facts, history, law and reality would write that. Floyd was not by any measure intentionally killed, so he cannot have been “executed.” If I wasn’t obligated to cover terrible punditry and journalism ethics here, I wouldn’t finish reading an essay that characterized Floyd’s death that way. Anyone who would do that is a liar or an idiot, or both.

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Comment Of The Day: “Latest Admittees To The “Do Something!” Hall Of Fame”

I am pretty sure that I have neglected to post a fair share of Paul W. Schlecht’s deserving and entertaining commentaries as Comments of the Day; he deserves better. He has a unique style, often sliding into satirical rants. In the case of the UN’s climate change propaganda arm, however, his tone is not only appropriate, it’s welcome and necessary.

Here is Paul’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Latest Admittees to the ‘Do Something!’ Hall Of Fame.” Incidentally, I hope Paul forgives me for substituting “fuck” for “F***K, but I hate all of the “polite” ways of writing and saying that word, since they all mean the same thing.


The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is a scientific and intergovernmental body under the auspices of the United Nations, set up at the request of member governments, dedicated to the task of providing the world with an objective, scientific view of climate change and its political and economic impacts.”

An absolute epitome of grift/graft, the UNIPCC conducts no research of its own, which should come as no surprise. Follow the money; it’s not in the research, it’s in the solutions recommended by the Summary for Policy-Makers (SPM) addendum to its Assessment Reports (AR’s).

While this may come as something of a surprise, the “solutions” quite often benefit financially those who propose them. Anyone wondering why the UNIPCC has fought reform and scrutiny, wonder no more.

The UNIPCC answers to no one, has no obligation to give an audience to anyone who doesn’t confirm the “Consensus” and has NO Conflict-Of-Interest (COI) provision.

A while back, an INTERACADEMY COUNCIL investigation recommended sweeping changes to the UNIPCC.

“*(T)he council said (thatthe UNIPCC) needs a full-time executive director, more openness and regular changes in leadership. It called for stronger enforcement of its reviews of research and adoption of a COI policy, which the IPCC does not have, even though its parent agencies do.” The COI issue was raised because of former Chair Rajendra Pachauri’s work as adviser and board member of green energy companies, etc., etc., etc.

The UNIPCC’s response? “FUCK OFF!!…a somewhat more direct iteration of “BITE ME!”

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Update On The Anthony Broadwater Saga

New York State will pay $5.5 million to Anthony Broadwater, who spent 16 years in prison after being wrongly convicted of raping the Alice Sebold, a best selling novelist and author, when she was a college student in 1982. He was finally released in 1999. The $5.5 million settles Broadwater’s lawsuit, filed after his rape conviction was vacated in November 2021 by a state court judge.

The justice system in Broadwater’s case certainly malfunctioned badly, as the Times story linked above explains. The main responsible party, however, was Sebold, who not only sent the innocent man to prison with a false accusation and identification, but profited by doing so. She wrote two books, one her successful novel “Lovely Bones,” based on the rape, and an earlier book “Lucky,” an account of her rape and the subsequent identification of Broadwater as her rapist. Sebold passed Broadwater on the street and contacted the police saying she might have seen the man who had raped her. That placed him in the maw of a system determined to pin the rape on someone. She later identified him in court as her rapist.

When Broadwater was released, as I previously noted in this post, Sebold attempted to salve a guilty conscience by issuing an apology on the website Medium, which said in part,

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Unethical Quote Of The Month: 65 Professors And 558 Other Faculty Members And Students Of Washington & Lee University

“We ask that the University prevent Matt Walsh from speaking on our campus and that the University live out its Statement of Commitment to Diversity by taking action to protect its minority students from future harmful events.”

—623 Washington & Lee signatories, including 65 professors and law professors, of an online petition to block a conservative speaker from appearing on campus

Displaying either ignorance or contempt for the core American ethical principle of freedom of speech, 623 members of the Washington & Lee University community, mostly students and faculty members but with a few others mixed in, maybe cafeteria workers or something, have signed an online petition insisting that conservative political commentator and author Matt Walsh be prevented from speaking at the Virginia campus on March 30, on the currently controversial topic of “What is a woman.” Walsh has been a deliberately inflammatory critic of the current extremist, indeed brain-melting phenomenon of transsexual madness, which has reached such heights (or depths) that the last confirmed Justice on the U.S. Supreme Court professed an inability to define “woman.” Walsh stars in online documentary film “What Is a Woman?” created by the conservative website, The Daily Wire.

What is so disturbing about the petition, which is reproduced in its entirety below, is the anti-democratic logic and ideology it displays, though all of this is now familiar to anyone following the descent of the American Left into aspiring totalitarianism. The position one whole side of the American political spectrum has now almost completely accepted as legitimate is that dissent from its obviously virtuous and correct cant (they are on the “right side of history,” after all) is the equivalent of violence and causes permanent “harm” to member of its constituency or society in general. The petition justifies its existence by providing frightening proof of many horrible truths, among them that the U.S.’s institutions of higher learning now indoctrinate their students into anti-democratic philosophies. Here is just a sample of the petitioners’ reasoning:

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Comment Of The Day: “Ethics Observations On The House Passage Of H.R.5 (The Parents Bill of Rights)”

Jim Hodgson produced two COTD-worthy responses to the post about H.R.5 which…

…dares to require schools to let parents know what they are teaching, urging students to read, and otherwise indoctrinating their students. I chose this one.

The issue of federalism didn’t enter into my ethics analysis, but it is a valid point: why is the Federal government dictating education policy to the states? Well, it’s an ends and means problem: while a majority of the states are considering laws similar to H.R. 5, those dedicated to using mandatory government education to raise a generation of anti-American little Marxists who change their genders like socks present what may well be an existential threat to the United States envisioned by the Constitution. “The Constitution,” Justice Jackson memorably said in Terminiello v. Chicago (1949) , “is not a suicide pact.”

Is Jim’s Comment of the Day an ethical comment or a political one? We inevitably end up on political turf frequently here, but politics is often inextricable from ethics, as ethically corrupt as it so often is.

Here is Jim Hodgson’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Ethics Observations On The House Passage Of H.R.5 (The Parents Bill of Rights)”:


For an old states-rightist like me, the true sadness is that the local and state governments haven’t acted on this matter (and many others) long before now. You know, enumerated powers, like the Constitution says. But, here in post-Constitutional America, that fussy old document is but a minor impediment to the communists in the land.

I have been active in a number of local, regional and state political campaigns since the 1980s, and have come to know many of the candidates (both incumbents and challengers) personally. I can state with utter certainty that only a minority of them, despite their likely protestations to the contrary, remain dedicated to the causes (and voters) that got them elected in the first place, or to following through with making the changes they declared vital and pledged to make once they got into office. Holding political office is such a process of being co-opted and corrupted for most people. The so-called conservatives have “gone along to get along” until there seems to be little left to conserve. The principled liberals have allowed their Democratic efforts to be hijacked by the radical “social justice” mob. Special interests and money control both parties, top to bottom.

I contact elected officials regularly about a variety of issues, both personally and on behalf of organizations to which I belong. I always make my communications polite, short and to the point, usually containing a bullet list of items, and often a reminder of the official’s prior stated position on the matter at hand. Except from those who know me from a campaign, I seldom get more than a perfunctory “Thank you for contacting us.” message. I get particularly aggravated by members of my state legislature when they ask for input on an upcoming committee or floor vote but seem to have their minds made up despite the amount of public input they get to the contrary of their eventual vote. These legislators depend heavily upon the short memories, attention spans and naivety of the voters to maintain their continuation in office.

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