Now THIS Is Ethical Estoppel…

Daily News CruzNow and then you may read here that someone is “ethically estopped” from making an argument that otherwise would be valid. The term derives from the legal concept of estoppel, the principle that precludes a person from asserting in a legal proceeding something contrary to what is implied by a previous action or statement of that person or by a previous pertinent judicial determination.

If you want an example of how I apply estoppel in an ethics rather than a legal context, look no further than New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who decided to grandstand over Ted Cruz’s cheap shot about Donald Trump’s “New York values.” Cuomo puffed himself up with indignation, and after Cruz defined New York values as “socially liberal, pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage,  and focus around money and the media.” Cuomo demanded that Cruz apologize, saying…

“I’m always open to give him an education on what New York values are all about. And if he had any class, he would apologize to the people of New York. Not that I believe they need it or they want it. But if he had any class, he would apologize.”

Cruz was wrong to make such a statement, but Cuomo eliminated himself from the huge pool of Americans who were entitled to call for his apology, since two years ago, Cuomo himself declared the same dichotomy Cruz was asserting, and even more unethically.Then he said, of conservative Republicans,

“Who are they? Are they these extreme conservatives who are right-to-life, pro-assault-weapon, anti-gay? Is that who they are? Because if that’s who they are and they’re the extreme conservatives, they have no place in the state of New York, because that’s not who New Yorkers are.” 

Ethical estoppel. Cruz’s comment was unfair and offensive, but it was essentially the same statement Cuomo had made himself, and compounded by saying that anyone without “New York values” weren’t welcome in the state. How American!

Now, if Cuomo had seen the error of his ways and apologized for his own asinine effort to segregate Americans by regional values, he would have an ethical leg to stand on when he too on Cruz. He didn’t, though, and doesn’t.

13 thoughts on “Now THIS Is Ethical Estoppel…

  1. Because he was RIGHT, dammit! Cuomo would have to have some sense of shame to even see the obvious dichotomy. He doesn’t.

    • Funny, the same thought (it’s the JOOOOS!) is also associated with criticism built around the term “neocons.” It’s probably also unfair and definitely unfortunate.

      • I never understood that, actually… Why American Jews tend to lean left. Democrats have never really been good for Jews, and as opposed to the lip service they ostensibly give African Americans, Democrats are often overly hostile of Israel. I know you can’t really conflate Israelis with American Jews, but there seems to be an animosity between American and Israeli Jews that I don’t fully understand.

        • I have family in Israel. We have certain political differences abut the practice of apartheid but that aside they’re not fond of Netanyahu either.

          Leaving that aside, you can’t honestly be confused as to why people who aren’t Christians would want to stay the hell away from the religious right. They don’t support Israel, they support end days prophecies about the temple being rebuilt and the Jews being wiped out in some final battle. Plus, whatever they may say about Israel, their proposed policies aren’t particularity welcoming to Jews here. Why would any non-christian want to vote for people who use terms like christian nation? Who imply or even outright state that other people aren’t real citizens. I’ve been told with a straight face that the first amendment only applied to christian denominations (can’t offer much of a citation but it was one of the whack-a-doodles that hangs out in the Baen’s Bar about five years ago.)

          Now, I’m socially liberal, I don’t care who’s gay and I don’t care if Caitlyn Jenner wants to prance around in skirts so long as I don’t have to see her dick when I’m changing at the gym. I don’t care what gods you pray to unless you’re specifically bothering me about it. When I hear people make nasty comments about ‘political correctness’, I see it as code for a concept I must be missing because as far as i can tell, the complaint always comes on the heels of someone being called an asshole. I have no problem with the idea that you should use the terms people choose for themselves rather than the ones you’ve chosen for them. I certainly cringe and complains when trans people refer to others as cis and demand they do the same.

          So what else do republicans have, capital punishment? Jews tend to be against it, for all the wrath in the old testament, culturally we’ve been mostly against it for hundreds of years. Abortion isn’t really on our radar, I’ve never listened to a (reform) rabbi say boo about it. I’ve never attended an orthodox service though, maybe they care, maybe not, either way I’m still a woman and object to giving men any say in the matter. By all means, trying to convince people not to do it if that makes you happy so long as you don’t actually have the power to prevent it.

          So what is it you think the republican’s have to offer that would appeal to Jews? And appeal enough to cozy up to people who go around thinking non-christians are outsiders in their own country?

          • Good rant, but there are a lot of assumptions and inaccuracies. The religious right is not the GOP, but a loud minority in it. It was anti-Semitic Democrats in FDR’s administration who turned their backs on Jewish refugees while Hitler was using his death camps. At this point, it is undeniable that the Republicans are Israel’s most loyal supporters; blacks and progressives often make a flawed analogy between blacks and Palestinians. If and when Israel faces attack, I assure you that it will be Republicans arguing that we must stand with our ally, and Democrats making rationalizations.

            When I hear conservatives talk about cultural roots, I generally hear Judeo-Christian traditions noted, not “Christian” only. Even Mike Huckabee uses “Judeo-Christian.”

            As for the rest…

            When I hear people make nasty comments about ‘political correctness’, I see it as code for a concept I must be missing because as far as i can tell, the complaint always comes on the heels of someone being called an asshole.

            Then you haven’t been paying attention. Why don’t you visit FIRE’s site, and educate yourself?

            I have no problem with the idea that you should use the terms people choose for themselves rather than the ones you’ve chosen for them.

            Even if the “terms” are designed to be misleading? If an illegal immigrant wants me to call him an “immigrant,” that’s reasonable to you? Wow.

            So what else do republicans have, capital punishment? Jews tend to be against it, for all the wrath in the old testament, culturally we’ve been mostly against it for hundreds of years.

            Gee, that’s funny: I seem to recall Jews having no problem with it when the defendants are Nazis. Why didn’t anyone tell Eichmann that Jews objected to Capital punishment?

            Abortion isn’t really on our radar, I’ve never listened to a (reform) rabbi say boo about it. I’ve never attended an orthodox service though, maybe they care, maybe not, either way I’m still a woman and object to giving men any say in the matter.

            What a silly, facile, crude argument. Do you think the human beings being killed should have a say in it? Should I have a say in whether my son lives or dies? Talk about reducing a complex bioethical problem into simpleminded generalities.

            There are legitimate reasons Jews tend to the liberals side, having more to do with Jewish culture than anything you mentioned. An atypically sloppy comment.

          • And by the way, when someone says “I’m a social liberal,” that tells me they buy their opinions in bulk, and stopped thinking long ago. There is no reason why gay rights, gay marriage, abortion on demand, birth out of wedlock, drug legalization and affirmative action should all be a unit, with set “liberal positions.” The issues and balances, ethical dilemmas and trade-offs are different in each one.

            • I intend to write a longer reply in the morning, for now though… When you mention birth out of wedlock, know you’re talking to a bastard.

              For those others, you’ve gotten to your positions starting from a different framework. Mine starts somewhere between progressive and libertarian neither of whom are fond of legislating ‘morality’ (placed in quotes due to the subjective natures of what is moral.) I don’t recall opining here on either drug legalization or affirmative actions. For the former, if you’re curious, I’m apathetic. I don’t use drugs not given to me by a doctor, I’ve used street drugs, I’ve only used perspiration painkillers as prescribed and not even much then since ibuprofen always worked better. If the people want some or all drugs to be legal, I’m okay with that. If they want those drugs to be illegal, I’m okay with that too. For the latter, I’ll opine on that if and when I think my opinion will make a useful contribution.

              • 1. Sorry about the circumstances of your birth; happy that in your case, it worked out. Irrelevant, however. It’s like countering a point about alcoholic parents being bad for children by saying, “Oh yeah? My father was a drunk, and look at me!”

                2. That explains a lot. Libertarianism is as irresponsible and fantastic as socialism. The job of law is to ensure that society is productive and safe, and thus laws cannot be separated from ethics. Laws say “this is wrong and bad for the rest of us, don’t do it.” If the state says, “never mind, go ahead, we don’t care,” it’s an endorsemnt. Like your shrugging off drugs. Conduct kills and destroys countless lives, costing society billions, and you are apathetic. Libertarisanism in a nutshell, and irresponsible. Like all ideologies, it has some useful concepts to add to the debate. So does socialism.

  2. Ever since my time among New Yorkers and Long Islanders while in college, I’ve considered people from metropolitan New York the most provincial people in the country. Anything west of the Hudson doesn’t exist probably except Las Vegas and there’s nothing east of NYC other than Fenway Park on television.

    • Mmmm, I think you are thinking of the NYC and LI gentry. My sister-in-law is from Suffolk County and their family, area and neighbors aren’t that different than basic middle-class NJ like Nutley or Belvidere. I’m from Bergen County, 20 minutes from the City, and I get there’s a whole lot more to this nation. Now, if you want to talk about the Hamptons folks or the Upper East Side folks, yup, those are the provincial types, but that’s an attitude fairly common to east or west coast city gentry, who scoff at the rest of the US as “flyover country” and think they are inherently superior.

      From a certain honoree here, who shall remain nameless:

      “Why shouldn’t those of us on the coasts feel superior? We eat better, travel more, dress better, watch cooler movies, earn better salaries, meet more interesting people, listen to better music and know more about what’s going on in the world.”

      I wonder how much of that is shtick and how much is seriously believed, BUT, I do think it fairly represents the attitude held by big-city liberal gentry, especially those in the three most significant cities in the US: New York, DC, and LA, which do represent a different world.

      Outside of those three, though (all of which have areas you want to stay out of if you want to stay healthy), I have to say, the big city life starts to lose its appeal really quickly, as the nation’s remaining cities are divided mostly between those that are bastions of liberal thinking on their way to problems (Seattle, Portland, most of the cities on the West Coast) and those that are already in deep trouble (most of the cities on the East Coast and along what used to be the industrial belt of the Midwest).

      Some of them have significant attractions: Philadelphia’s historic district, Baltimore’s inner harbor, San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf, etc., but if you’re wise when you visit these cities, you stick close to the attraction districts and you are very careful not to take a wrong turn. Others, like Chicago, Detroit, and second-tier places like Hartford, Providence, most of the NJ cities, or the cities that most folks not from the states they are located in have heard of, are either too dangerous and hopeless or simply not worth bothering with if you don’t have a reason to go there.

      The days were when the cities were the place to go for a lot of things, including jobs at all levels. These days, with manufacturing a thing of the past, telecommuting, and businesses seeing the graffiti and deciding not to come in, the jobs aren’t there. They were the place to shop – Newark used to have Macy’s, Gimbel’s and all the rest. With the advent of the mall and now online ordering with relatively speedy delivery, shopping is dead. They are still the place for museums, professional sports, high level theater, and general sightseeing (some of them), but, with prices of all of that stuff climbing and the economy being what it has been, a lot of that is out of reach for all but the very wealthy. Add in the fact that liberal leadership is starting to make the cities less safe, and still fewer people come. I am a bit more leery of walking around Manhattan now than I was three years ago. I don’t want to take a side street and get mugged, nor am I particularly interested in encountering the homeless and human waste, which are becoming more ubiquitous. I’d love to get a meal in Soho and go to a show in Midtown, but I don’t want to run into major danger on the way.

      Yet the big city gentry still think they are better than us.

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