Comment of the Day: “Zero Sum Ethics Encore: When An Unfair Firing Is Still The Most Ethical Course”

 my hero

The dilemma posed in the recent post about the radio host fired because of the danger posed by her threatening, stalker ex-husband sparked some unexpected reactions, as many readers expressed frustration that Nancy Lane’s employer left her to her own resources in her peril. One of the more provocative alternatives proposed is Steven’s endorsement of what he calls the chivalristic response.

Here is his Comment of the Day, to the post Zero Sum Ethics Encore: When An Unfair Firing Is Still The Most Ethical Course.

The problem I have with situations such as here with Nancy Lane is there is no reason for this situation to result in an ethical dilemma or “Zero Sum”. I, as well as few others here recommend what can only be labeled as a chivalristic response. Now we are not talking the aristocratic, medieval ethos but more of a modernization of the gentlemanly behavior exhibited of those of the greatest generation without the bigotry or homophobia. With the feminization of our society it is incredibly hard to find the line between “modern” chivalry and misogyny, or at least feminism’s liberal application of the term.

The disparity of messages such as the Violence Against Women Act extension or “War on Women” rhetoric with the push for women in direct combat positions and Hollywood’s presentation of the indestructible female hero who takes on a pack muscular men and beats them down confuses things further. When reality strikes such as the Marine Corps decision to ditch requiring women to do pullups as are required of the men the message that is presented is not an admission that men and women are different but that the requirement itself is stupid and misogynistic. The bottom line is there is a difference between men and women, and men are generally better suited to step in when a woman is under physical threat by a man to provide a counter.

A gun works well as an equalizer too but that is a whole other discussion.

Organizations such as the Boy Scouts, where masculinity and male attributes are focused and given a productive purpose for the benefit of society, provide a useful example of the traits that should be promoted in the male population of society. The idea of not taking action and being a bystander to an injustice or threat against someone is counter to their creed, and this is not misogynistic, but is recognizing a duty to act and that due to biology there is a good chance should the situation result in violence that generally a man will fare better in such then a women.

Taking action does not always mean direct confrontation; many of these situations escalate much farther then what is needed partly due to the target of the aggression being fearful from the start to taking any action that may result angering their tormentor. Having a man recognize the problem and be willing to get involved provides that support and safety the target needs to resolve the issue from the start.

Obviously a woman stepping up and getting involved can provide some of the same benefits but a man is still generally better suited if that aggression shifts to them. So with all that said with Nancy Lane’s dilemma if when all this started, or even when the issues started at work someone decided to get involved, to be a witness to the confrontations and harassment, to take the time to walk her to her car, to be a visible deterrent, demonstrate that she was not alone and helpless, that any direct confrontation would involve more than just her, the risk of taking action against her increases making her a much less attractive target for aggression. It additionally demonstrates positive action to address the situation, making the employer more likely to give the situation time to resolve.

Society has shifted reliance on police, social workers and the like, and those who do not have problems such as Nancy have a gained a false sense of security because they are promoted as the champions of the weak and unfortunate, when in reality they are the cleanup crew. Look at many small towns, generally in areas where personal responsibility and religion are not dirty words, you still see it. The police forces are often small and unobtrusive, not due to lack means but lack of need. Many of those communities “police” their own, not vigilantism, they get involved immediately when problems arise, reducing severity and alleviating the need for officer involvement. They identify bad behavior and are willing to call it out, woman and men, woman don’t have to fear confronting a man about bad behavior, they know if things escalate another man will step in, not because the man stepping in hates women or he thinks he is a superior human being but because generally biology favors men with strength and this has been recognized throughout the ages and reflected through chivalry. Even a man who targets women with his aggression usually can recognize this fact of biology and it often is enough to deter that aggressor. This is not an unerring solution, but it is not one which should be shunned and demeaned but promoted.


Graphic: Photobucket

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51 thoughts on “Comment of the Day: “Zero Sum Ethics Encore: When An Unfair Firing Is Still The Most Ethical Course”

  1. I think its worthy of noting that all options that mitigate or resolve the woman’s issue involve the measured and proportionate application of force or threat of the same by good people.

    The only way to counter evil.

    • No, The only way it to reply is greater force. Merely meeting them with equal force lets the other guy decide when things get really nasty.

      Be willing to get nasty right out of the gate.

      If someone is threatening a woman, you stop him. Hard. Use more force than he does, and make it clear that you have no upper limit. Make certain the other side knows the cost, and make that cost steep.

      “Never be afraid to be the first to resort to violence.”

  2. Guys’ wives and who’s-the-husband wisecracks aside, that illustration disturbs me. Jack, you should know partly why, from our recent exchange: It seems that at least some of us WISH that humans and T-Rexes (“dragons” to slay) inhabited earth at the same time.

    The more disturbing bit about this particular illustration, though, is the brown “substance” that appears to be trailing the airborne knife-wielder. Of course it can be presumed to be the temporary slack in a man’s loincloth. But its location, unfortunate as it seems, near the center of the image, caused me to surmise that an appropriate title is, “Chivalry and the Smell of Fear.” I can only hope the guy works all that excitement out, before he “retreats” triumphant to the formerly distressed damsel, and engages with her in less life-threatening intercourse.

    • I’m surprised no feminists have annihilated that picture. We should all know that cave woman doesn’t need a man to defend her from the dinosaur. She could just rail on ad nauseum about her rights, the evils of man, and how she doesn’t need him and the T-Rex would die of boredom.

            • What you see as a tidal wave, I interpret as the shock front and initial debris wall after the great asteroid impact that wiped out all those dinosaurs and chivalrous, right-wing human dudes (and hot right-wing human babes) 65 million years ago. Oh well, maybe Mr. Flying Wet-Farting Hero can be done with his good deed in time for one last, clean, safe quickie with that female- and human-looking babe.

        • I am fairly surprised as well.

          There seems to be a lot of regulars missing lately despite comment counts going up. I hope that doesn’t continue as many of those regulars were good at challenging ideas regardless where they fell on the political spectrum. With those challenges it was far easier to focus on the ethics of a given situation and not be distracted with secondary considerations.

          • I worry about it all the time. I know commenters by nature ebb and flow with their lives and habits. Some of the most enthusiastic early commenters, like Glenn Logan. Karl Penny and Tim LeVier, I hear from no wand then and know they are lurking. I’m in touch with TGT, who I hope will return eventually,and who is dealing with life. Rick has been less prolific here of late, as has Ethics Bob, but on their own blogs as well. Ampersand, as you recall, left in a huff; I’m afraid I may have run off jj; Some correspondents, like Neil Penny and Ed Carney, get upset with me for various reasons and vanish. I fear we may have seen the last of Bruce, who seems to take the debate a bit too personally. I ding first time commenters regularly who enter with snark, rationalizations, rants or ad hominem attacks. With all of this, the blog’s traffic is growing steadily, being quoted and linked to more and more, and on track to average about 5000 views a day by the end of the year, which is very good for a blog on a much-derided topic like ethics.

            I felt the mix 6 months ago was more varied, but no more astute or erudite. All I can do is keep trying to put up useful content and facilitate enlightening discussion. I believe that in the end, that will draw an ever-larger, more varied, and perceptive forum.

            • I have actually noticed already the recent absence of comments from relative newcomer Fred (I am fairly sure he is not a re-named regular from ‘way back). We still have Charles and Beth with us (I hope), and it’s always a better day for me when I see a comment by Zoe. I do agree that we would all be better for reading more comments by tgt (as I said recently, I over-stated my under-missing of him). I can only speculate that many voices of the Left are conserving energy for now, while re-designing and re-packaging their arguments for ever more cleverly timed and coordinated reveals.

              • I agree and you may have something with “I can only speculate that many voices of the Left are conserving energy for now. “ As for tgt he brought me around on several things but our last argument was the last, he lied and was generally misrepresenting ideas and positions and when I called him on it he wouldn’t take ownership of his mistakes, the thing when I first came here that struck me was everyone operated, or seemed too, in good faith. I think tgt added a great deal here but before he left that good faith and well reasoning was lacking from him. Hopefully he gets things in order, recharges and comes back like the old tgt.

                • Which argument was that? I’d love to see which argument it was that finally pushed him away, especially given the knock down drag outs he and I used to have when I’d thoroughly dissect his conclusions and display the errant premises and faulty logic he employed.

                  My suspicion that the Lefties have departed here has several explanations:

                  1) It is exhausting to constantly jump to knee jerk defenses of indefensible ethical lapses, which, based on observing this blog, it seems the Left is more prone to do than the Right. (I even, quit annoyingly, started pointing out posts where Jack called out unethical behavior by Republicans, conservatives, or Rightwingers with a simply “It’s worthy of noting, no one has jumped to knee jerk defense of this conduct” — whereas, countless times Lefties were called on their conduct, the longest arguments dragged on as knee jerk defense of the indefensible was dissected and annihilated)

                  2) A certain level of snark and smart-assery, displayed by both sides of discussions, which otherwise is tolerable and often justified when one side or the other demonstrates pig-headed and idiotic clinging to thoroughly debunked ideas. The level has been elevated as of late, especially in light of consideration #1.

                  3) Solid knock down arguments (which our commenters are extremely good at producing) which dissect disagreements to their bare bones essence (and further) and really analyzes the premises involved and appropriately weighs the values and identifies non-values being elevated to values, have revealed time and time again that the right and the left are not equally right and wrong about things, but that the left, in general has more errors and flaws in their societal ideals

            • I was not necessarily complaining. What struck me is not just some of the older regulars being gone but that many of the comments to posts are generally ones that I would agree with, whereas 6 months or so ago it would have been more of an equal split. Now that may be reflective of which topics I take the time to fully read through, what topics are selected here, the trend of ethic worthy topics to focus on, the waning desire/ability to defend things this administration is wrapped up in or a shift in demographics drawn here. What initially brought me coming back here was the lack of group think, the diversity of ideas. It is still here but the balance may be a bit off, likely just a nature shift but something to keep an eye on.
              Based on Ampersand ‘s comments I began lurking over there because he had brought in ideas that were not ones I would have considered but were well reasoned, he changed and became entrenched, he shifted from being well reasoned to regurgitating party/cause talking points.

                • Tex, it is funny that you say that but that was part of what kept me coming back, not that leftist stance appeals to me but many leftist here could come to a well-reasoned and logical ethical solution to an issue. Many times identifying assumptions both right and left that were actually invalid. Other times their assumptions were incorrect, but the focus on ethics brings much of that to light.

  3. Is ForEver broadcasting ethically obligated to give Nancy Lane her job back if she shows them sufficient PROOF that the ex-husband is dead, e.g., notarized death certificate, corpse, severed head?

    • Michael I don’t have a background in law so I would be hard pressed to even offer an opinion on that basis, but basing it on what is the right thing to do I would say yes they do, caveated with unless they have permanently filled that position. If they have filled the position I think she should get special consideration for any other positions she is qualified for that come open, it demonstrates to employees that they are important and that when issues arise that if they get there houses back in order then the company will welcome them back in the fold, building loyalty and dedication, it additionally makes sense as they will save time and resources because she already knows the company.

      • I think that’s right, although the petition would count against her, and fairly so. One of my early mentors in business told me, the #1 Rule for any member of any staff is “DON’T BE A PROBLEM!” “It doesn’t matter what the problem is, or who is at fault. Your job is to make the boss’s job easier, not harder…if you are a problem, for whatever reason, you are not doing your job well, or at least not well enough.”

        • This is so true! We’re looking for a replacement of one of my most trusted and reliable coworkers right now and I can’t believe how many people who want her job have a history of throwing our program and personnel under the bus. Do they think we don’t remember?
          Sadly, because of so many regulations about who we can hire and what we are allowed to consider we may end up with one of them.

        • The unfortunate flipside of that is when it’s your job to be a problem. I work in product testing- to spare the details, before products can get sold they need stamps of approval from specific governing/regulatory bodies and it’s my team’s job to jump them through the hoops to get said stamps. When a product gets glad-handed through all the other steps it’s our job to say “this doesn’t… actually WORK” and them we are a problem for everyone.

          • I, too, am a tester from ‘way back. So now I know (about you), and now I think I understand better, part of why I enjoy and gain much from your comments. It’s hell sometimes, being the “bad guy on the inside” (if that is your position), but you say much that gives me confidence that your business is much the better, for the greater good, for your being in it.

            • So we attempt. The phrase “Of course he insults you at meetings, you wouldn’t say his project was ready to ship” gets thrown around a lot, but I rather enjoy it. Like I said on a comment a while back, my favorite part of science is saying “here’s this idea I constructed and a bag of hammers, see what you can break off.”

              • I would rather know the truth and be correct, and be thought a “failure” at stopping a rush to folly, than own some fraudulent reputation for being a “team player” that reflected doing my part to facilitate the rush (and the folly). I still do not know of one tester who has climbed a corporate ladder faster than any “lead” of product development, even despite an unsuccessful product. These would be interesting survey results: (1) How many test leads have taken turns as product development leads, and (2) How many organizations that develop products for mass markets (other than, say, test equipment manufacturers for example) have testing experts for CEOs, versus how many CEOs are grizzled product development veterans?

                • You know, it’s funny . . . once upon a time I was in charge of a product engineering team. Because of a quirk of company org charts, the people who did the testing also technically reported to me.

                  I made a point of going to the Project Manager (my boss) and letting him know that the Q/A people should be reporting to him, not me. “I should not be in a position where I can tell Laura* that she HAS to approve this build.”

                  Evidently no one before me recognized the conflict of interest there.

                  They never did change the org chart, but I did let Laura* know that I would never do that and that she should feel free to tell me or anyone else to go straight to Hell if they tried.


                  * Not her real name.

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