Eureka! Some Enlightenment Out Of The Orlando Terrorist Ethics Train Wreck! Presenting Rationalization #40 B, The Lone Inspiration Excuse, or “Do YOU Have A Better Idea?”

Eureka

The human mind’s infinite ability to devise rationalizations to justify unethical or irresponsible conduct apparently has no bounds. One way that I have discovered many of the nearly 60 excuses, fallacies, deceits, and ethical distortions that make up the Rationalizations List is to argue with intelligent people who are determined to justify conduct that is simply unjustifiable using such legitimate tools as logic, analysis, common sense and traditional ethics. Lacking good arguments and being unwilling to do that hardest thing—give up and admit they are wrong—they pin their position on a rationalization…sometimes one I had never heard before.

The public debate over the various proposals to “do something!” about mass shootings is as depressing as any discussion I have ever participated in. The willingness of gun opponents, Democrats, journalists, pundits and otherwise intelligent people to not only defy the Bill of Rights guarantee of due process but to literally ignore its existence shows how close the stinking breath of totalitarianism is to the neck on our nation, and that it is much hotter than I realized. This isn’t an exception or an anomaly. This is a result of carefully bred contempt for American values.

The intense ignorance crossed with malice toward our Constitution reached a climax of sorts today on social media, as people who should know better (and people who do know better, like erstwhile Harvard Law professor Elizabeth Warren) applauded the cynical and hypocritical “sit-in” by House Democrats, who said they would hold their breath until they turned blue unless the Congress of the United States voted to allow the government to take away the rights of citizens based on “suspicion.” Only rationalizations can defend this position, primarily among them “The Saint’s Excuse,” or “It’s for a good cause,” “It” is this case meaning..

  • Accepting the ethically and morally bankrupt principle that “the ends justify the means”
  • Setting a precedent for allowing the government to abridge any rights it chooses once by some standard it finds a law-abiding citizen “unworthy”
  • Enacting a provision that the ACLU has pronounced unconstitutional
  • Establishing the principle that the Congress can and will abandon the rule of law as long as enough members of the public and media let emotion overcome reality
  • Lay the groundwork for a President, like say, just to pick a crazy, impossible example out of the air, President Trump, who is as ignorant of the rule of law as the position’s supporters, to really start ripping up the Bill of Rights, beginning with Freedom of the Press, Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Association.

To put it another way, it’s a really, really stupid and indefensible position.

[ The House sit-in just ended, by the way, after about a day. Nah, it wasn’t a publicity stunt! ]

The amazing thing is that nobody can substantively defend ignoring due process….not Senators, not Congress members, and definitely not members of the public who wrote on Facebook that they “loved” John Lewis for leading this fiasco and were “proud” of Democrats for “standing up to the NRA.” The whole argument comes down to “We have to do something, and this is the only thing we can think of to do, and if it violates basic Constitutional rights, it doesn’t matter, because this is the only thing we can think of to do!”

Needless to say, this is no way to run a country, or at least a democracy.

I had a futile and frustrating exchange with one of the pro-sit-in fans bubbling over with enthusiasm for Democrats behaving like children..and children too young to have taken basic civics at that—that quickly featured the fingers-in-the-ears-tactic of my adversary saying, “Well, we disagree.” No, I pointed out. That’s like saying we disagree when I say you are a human being and you say you are a lump of cheese. It’s like saying that we disagree with the Orlando terrorist. The measures, all of them, are a violation of the Fifth Amendment. That is illegal and wrong. Thus, Congress shouldn’t engage in it. The fact that you are incapable or unable to perceive reality doesn’t make this a disagreement, with our positions holding equal status and validity. You have to explain to me, to reach that status, why I am wrong that…

“No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”

…somehow doesn’t apply to my being able to exercise all of the rights in the Constitution without the government unilaterally blocking me by putting me on a list.

Go ahead.

I’m waiting.

A substantive point.

Anything.

No, “we have to do something” isn’t a substantive point. Neither is “I’m sick of all these deaths,” I hate guns,” or “Guns BAD!”  As a result, what I got was this:

“Well, what’s your solution? All you’re doing is criticizing what’s been proposed; if you’re going to do that, you have an obligation to say what would be better.”

There is it is! The new rationalization, which I am calling Rationalization #40 B, The Lone Inspiration Excuse, or ” Do You Have A Better Idea?”

I am not obligated to solve your problem, nor is this required of someone pointing out why proposed conduct is illegal, unethical, dangerous, imprudent and wrong. The Lone Inspiration Excuse suggests that a terrible course of conduct can become acceptable by default. How many catastrophes have been created by that warped logic? If a proposed measure is too wrong and reckless to undertake, it shouldn’t be undertaken. The ethical response to someone who reasonably and carefully explains why proposed conduct cannot work and violates principles of law, ethics or common sense deserves a thank you, for that is valuable information. “Well, you solve it then!” is not a fair response. It’s a deflection, and an especially transparent one in this case. Solving this problem isn’t my job.

My better idea is to follow the law of the land, and not to promote irrational fear, anger, hysteria and political expediency as a substitute for rationality. If the only way to “do something” about periodic deaths from crazy citizens using guns illegally is to breach the law of the land and wound the Constitution, then the responsible and ethical better idea may be not to do anything at all.

28 Comments

Filed under Citizenship, Ethics Train Wrecks, Facebook, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Rights, U.S. Society

28 responses to “Eureka! Some Enlightenment Out Of The Orlando Terrorist Ethics Train Wreck! Presenting Rationalization #40 B, The Lone Inspiration Excuse, or “Do YOU Have A Better Idea?”

  1. Isn’t “Do you have a better idea?” itself a strawman argument? I mean, a kind of Abominable Snowman strawman: “Either you go my way – the way of the Abominable Snowman – or else you’re just a do-nothing, out-of-ideas critic.”

  2. J. E. Houghton

    I am reminded of the words of Justice Louis Brandeis:

    “Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government’s purposes are beneficent. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding.”

  3. On the Althouse blog, the law professor notes that a progressive writer at Gawker came out against the no-fly list gun laws for the same reason that I have, and Althouse.

    She then asks..

    “How is his lefty audience taking it? From one of the most up-voted comments, by RappingNinja:

    1) I don’t give a shit about denying anyone the ability to buy guns, even if it’s “unfair” to those people, because – unless you’re getting a single-shot rifle to hunt squirrel to feed your starving family – NO ONE SHOULD OWN ANY FUCKING GUNS….

    [Me: Note that this is essentially the view of Bruce and Rick in threads on the other gun issue posts. The ends justify the means, never mind the 5th Amendment, and wish the Second Amendment into the corn field.]

    Ann says,

    “Why aren’t human beings better at reasoning? Notice that this guy is — probably unwittingly — declaring that he’d be just fine with a law that came right out and said no Muslims can buy guns.

    When people think a particular liberty isn’t worth exercising or is actively wrong to exercise, do they become blind to the problem of selective deprivation? Think of the liberties that could fall into that category: drinking alcohol, having an abortion, sodomy, etc. Assume you’re one of the people who think that no one should do these things. You shouldn’t accept a law that said only young men are forbidden to buy a drink, only white women are forbidden to have an abortion, and only same-sex couples are forbidden to engage in sodomy. So why would you close your eyes to a government arrogation of power to make a big list of persons who may not do these things? I suspect that the answer you might not want to have to admit is: You favor the discrimination but think it needs to be done covertly. “

  4. Rick M.

    Wishing the second to the cornfield would certainly do the trick. Maybe the Billy Mumy Amendment?

    • Just don’t you dare mention a Jack-in-the Box!

      • I think I am being deliberately misrepresented at this point “The ends justify the means, never mind the 5th Amendment, and wish the Second Amendment into the corn field.”
        Or you don’t understand what I am saying

        For me:
        Constitutionally the ends never justifies the means
        The 5th Amendment and justice for cop shot black kids are indivisible. You cannot duly process a corpse.
        I wish the Second,Amendment all the best in it’s journey to .the Law Museum.

        I want to reform public order, not break it.

        • Sorry, Bruce, I find your cop argument incoherent.

          • That’s ok then. For clarity, do you understand the argument itself? Is it the way I am expressing it? Or is the idea in itself difficult to grasp?

            If a suspect is killed then he/she cannot be given due process. The (capital) punishment is inflicted prior to trial, in circumstances that will tend to lead to the exoneration of the cop. There is thus no due process and no facing the truth for the community. This will lead inevitably to rule by force rather than by consent.

            I think that is as clear a way to express it as I can think of.

            I must say I do have difficulty grasping an understanding of your position on these matters.

            Do I understand this correctly:
            You would rather die than receive help from a Government
            You would rather your family died
            You would rather everyone you knew died
            You would especially feel threatened if some one said their job is to ‘protect and serve’ the public.?
            You feel intensely animated if anyone looks aims or moves towards reducing that level of individual liberty so created.
            You regard the law as absent of any historical process of struggle for freedom, not related to class struggle? a sort of perfect law for a perfect world?
            You believe that the purpose of the law is to preserve those liberties? And that the task of police is to catch criminals?

            If that is correct. . . . I’m sorry Jack that would be so fundamentally wrong, to my way of thinking, that I could not express it in terms of ethics, I don’t think. It would have to be a moral statement in my criticism. This I am reluctant to make, understandably so I hope.

            Thanks again.

            • “If a suspect is killed then he/she cannot be given due process.”

              Any argument that follows from this is per se incoherent. A suspect that is legally killed in self-defense is irrelevant to due process. It is not an official government act.

              Start with fixing that.

              • “legally killed” “in self defence” two presumptions.
                I am saying the killings are largely unethical because the lethal force used in self defence was not in proportion to the threat, the cop is heavily preferring his own survival over that of the suspect (who, being innocent until proven guilty, is just a citizen 5th amendment rights included)

                “Not an official government act” Try considering unofficial government action. Does capital punishment grow in credibility if it is extra-judicial?

                Is that fixed now?

                • Nope. The officer is not obligated by duty at law to place his own life at risk from a threatening suspect. He has the same rights to self defense as I would, and more of the benefit of the doubt as a public servant who is required to place himself in peril.

                  Lethal force is legally justified to prevent death or serious bodily harm that can reasonably be anticipated by the individual with the individual’s state of mind at that moment.

                  “The cop is heavily preferring his own survival over that of the suspect”
                  is absolutely reasonable and approved in the law. I don’t comprehend how anyone can argue it should be otherwise.

                  “(who, being innocent until proven guilty, is just a citizen 5th amendment rights included)” WRONG! he is guilty at that moment of threatening a police officer and resisting arrest. There is not time to acquire a judicial determination, so the officer is empowered by law to act to do what is necessary to arrest the suspect so he can be tried, and used lethal force if necessary to protect himself. If he does, that is not punishment for attacking or resisting. That is self-defense—itself a civil right.

                  • I stick with this, until I am sure that I have been understood. I don’t yet think you have quite understood me.I am sorry to be having such difficulty/ Thanks for sticking with me.

                    For a UK citizen to defend themselves against an invasion of their homes with a gun against an attacker with a knife or cosh is (typically) illegal. To use say a garden fork or a fire poker would typically be ‘reasonably in proportion’ to the threat. If so, that is legal.

                    I call this a ‘proportional culture’ of self-defence. The US has a DIS-proportional culture of self defence (ie the culture allows interlopers to be shot dead). The 2nd Amendment is currently interpreted in line with that culure and ‘disproportionate’.

                    Now take the UK cop practising UK methods in the USA. He uses a Tazer – the suspect livesto be tried. No contradiction. 5th Amendment unbreached. This is an option. #1

                    Option #2 US cop practising US methods. The knife welding suspect is quite possibly dead.

                    When the US police train, equip and proceduralise cop practices, they choose Option 2. Not overtly, but by neglect. They know that cops will preserve their own lives and still take the decision*

                    Thus when the police department take that choice (#2) they are taking a choice on behalf of some suspects, knowingly, to be killed rather than stand trial. They are choosing to abide by the rule of 2nd Amendment in defiance of the 5th. They are volunarily depriving that number of people of their rights.

                    *They possibly could not recruit any cops without such ‘rules of engagement’ including first or promminent use of firearms. Possibly they never consider Option 1 (not carrying a gun routinely). Possibly they are just too deeply into the disproportionate culture of self defence? Either way their decision culpably sets up the interchange between cop and suspect. Because they, the police systems choose knowingly and aforehand that more suspects would die in events such as these than cops (that is a breach of ethical univerilisability – because the suspect at that point, of planning, is NOT known to be guilty). Also if the BLM campaign is correct the same statistics considered for the general case of cops killed vs suspects killed will be a ratio less than 1 then also cops killed vs black persons killed (if the stats can be disagregated that far.) indicatinga direct or indirect discriminatory effect or a secondary bias (proportion of violent crime in original call to police)

                    Your criticisms are thus invalid or unsound

                    Annotation Yours (mine, in brackets)
                    Nope. The officer is not obligated by duty at law to place his own life at risk from a threatening suspect. He has the same rights to self defense as I would, and more of the benefit of the doubt as a public servant who is required to place himself in peril.
                    (yes, of your right to disproportionate force in defence, that indeed is the problem Disproportionate force. It doesn’t show with a civilian but with a cop the clash is obvious. THe cop can protect himself wit his gun IF NECESSARY, that’s no problem.)

                    Lethal force is legally justified to prevent death or serious bodily harm that can reasonably be anticipated by the individual with the individual’s state of mind at that moment. (the state of mind of the planners is the problem, I allow this, though it is not strictly all of the case. It is a further problem that lethal force is legally allowed, that law is counter- constitutional. )

                    “The cop is heavily preferring his own survival over that of the suspect” is absolutely reasonable and approved in the law. I don’t comprehend how anyone can argue it should be otherwise.
                    (with a cop it has to be otherwise, to inspire confidence in the public. BUt that is a matter of policy. The key is if the cop is not brave enough not to shoot, the suspect does not have due process. If the cop is equipped with no gun and thus does not shoot no harm need necessarily befall said cop. Therefore adherence to the 5th is possible (if not shot) but likely not done (because very understandably cops take a snap decision), by a choice of the department. )

                    “(who, being innocent until proven guilty, is just a citizen 5th amendment rights included)” WRONG! he is guilty at that moment of threatening a police officer and resisting arrest. There is not time to acquire a judicial determination, so the officer is empowered by law to act to do what is necessary to arrest the suspect so he can be tried, and used lethal force if necessary to protect himself. If he does, that is not punishment for attacking or resisting. That is self-defense—itself a civil right.
                    (that all hangs on the word ‘necessary’ which as the UK experience proves it is not typically necessary to shoot subjects. The civil right to DISPROPORTIONATE Self defence is under examination here so is moot, can’t be called in evidence. If the shooting is not necessary, then it is not reasonable, (considered in planning so not a snap judgement under pressure) therefore if it is not reasonably inevitable as a consequence of self defence then there has been a crime. Either the crime of the suspect. or the crime of the cop, or the crime of the police department. or the crime of society – in total ‘the system’. So, failing any identification of a culprit (by due process) I call it a killing that is from ‘the system’ and not validated by a court or judge – that is an extra-judicial killing (if you want a different word,I will oblige .But in any case from that unnecessary death the suspect was denied due process.

                    • Running out now to walk Rugby, but just as a point to ponder:

                      “For a UK citizen to defend themselves against an invasion of their homes with a gun against an attacker with a knife or cosh is (typically) illegal.”

                      And most American know this and regard it as insanity. Including me. I have no obligation to be fair to someone endangering my family by invading my castle. That act is per se deserving of deadly force, and a machine gun, harpoon gun, cannon, flame-thrower or laser rigged to slice the invader up like salami is completely justified until even the pieces of the bastard aren’t twitching.

                      Here’s why: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cheshire,_Connecticut,_home_invasion_murders

                    • Jack, hoping Rugby (a dog) has walked some joy into your life, as is the habit of such friends. Oh to be the Alpha male leader of a pack of two. Pals, chums, compadres,. Kindred spirits looking for fun and trouble. I hope Rugby is well and enjoying life.

                      I do enjoy our cultural clashes,and your pointed quips at my expense and your points, which are always . . . . pointy, like that murder/rape. Apart from the naked appeal to emotion, I take it that there is a lesson in what you gorily image-scape as revenge fantasy.

                      I take you to be in earnest. I cannot see what logical relevance to the discussion there is in your example. I await my instruction with interest- lay on!

        • Steve-O-in-NJ

          This is the argument of an idiot. No, you can’t give due process to someone who’s dead, true, only compensate his estate. Are you saying the police should be deprived of the ability to use force because they might make a mistake? It’s a little hard to even start due process if you can’t effect a forcible arrest of a suspect who chooses not to cooperate. It’s a little hard for anyone to assert any rights of any kind if he is killed by someone who chooses not to follow the law and he is defenseless because he did.

          • I am saying it is unethical to administer capital punishment for a crime a citizen is only suspected , not proven, to have been perpetrated by that suspect. And that capital punishment is what it is, by proxy of an error by a cop.

            Cops should not use lethal force in response to sub-lethal threats. Pepper, spray, Tazers and long side-arm btatns are available as alternatives.Ding so will kill citizens from time to time, government, Police Departments, know this.

            • ARGHHHH!!!! It is not capital punishment! It isn’t punishment at all!!! It is self-defense, a civil right!!!! ARGHHHHHH! Why are you stuck on this?

              • Steve-O-in-NJ

                Because he seems to believe that any use of lethal force in the field is a de facto execution rather than a police officer either defending himself or using necessary force to protect others, defend himself, or effect a lawful arrest. I don’t even want to know what his thoughts on going in with heavy force for, say, a high-risk warrant are.

                • Use of force to defend is not in conflict with the 5th amendment. in general. But if a suspect is exposed to lethal force when non-lethal or sub-lethal methods are available then said suspect is being first defended against, doing allowable damage which does not preclude due process (ie subduing the suspect safely). Secondly the suspect is also being retaliated against for the commission of some crime (at the most generous interpretation). The ‘punishment’ for this ‘crime’ is capital and the due process is nothing. And it is the police authorities who are responsible for putting the cop in that position, armed. NOT the individual cop. Or the legislature that allows house holders and other civilians to be put in similar positions, not the householder

                  A high risk warrant -for example where hostages or innocent bystanders are involved is a different matter. But the same principle applies. That iis – you (cop or citizen) cannot ignore the 5th Amendment, invent a law of “(i feel like some revenge” (- for what?), specify that the punishment is death, judge the case and apply the penalty all by yourself. Because that breaches the 5th Amendment (because the Government hires the cop or fails to pass gun restriction laws)

                  The case Jack puts forward is that it does not matter if you are scared, the 5th Amendment is the individuals protection against the state and may not be breached. If it does not matter in the case of ‘do anything’ gun control then it does it matter in the case of self defence your fear matters nothing if you have prepared a position for revenge in advance of the action.. Specifically if the state arranges that for you (by arming cops routinely and allowing citizens to arm themselves). As cops routinely carrying guns is a response to crooks (ie citizens) carrying guns.

                  (So AAARGH ditto. Why is this at all difficult to grasp?)

  5. Dwayne N. Zechman

    “Do YOU Have A Better Idea?”

    I’ve run into this in various forms over the years and I’ve learned to answer it this way: “Yes I do. Nothing.”

    Doing nothing is absolutely a better idea than passing this bill. Is it perfect? Of course not. It’s still better.

    Never underestimate “Do nothing” as a valid course of action.

    –Dwayne

  6. I really need to do the taxonomy. This would be a cousin or a sibling of “somebody do something”

  7. We are doing something.

    When we find out there is a murder or two, we investigate. If investigation leads to a suspect, we prosecute the suspect in court.

    That is something.

  8. Chris Marschner

    Jack
    Perhaps the best defense against statements such as . . “Well, what’s your solution? All you’re doing is criticizing what’s been proposed; if you’re going to do that, you have an obligation to say what would be better” . . .is a good offense – not just a good offense but one grossly offensive.

    If denying rights without due process to protect innocent lives is their best solution lets suggest that if we have a terrorist watch list or if someone is too dangerous to fly we just pick them all up and intern them in a camp; Gitmo has vacancies now. If we can watch them we know where they live. Using their own logic as a counter argument we can simply state that if they are that dangerous to society they should not just be denied the right to purchase a firearm but we should also deny them any and all liberties. Moreover, people don’t get radicalized in a vacuum. Suggest that when we suspect a Mosque or a Madrasa is promoting the Islamist message of terrorizing the infidels or if a church preaches that homosexuality is a sin and abomination in the eyes of the Lord we can shut them down and eliminate their means of communicating their messages. We should strip the of their tax exempt status so that we are not paying for them to preach hate. Also, we can suggest that private publishers of materials that might lead to radicalism be held financially and criminally responsible for the acts of others who read their publications and carry out these horrific crimes.

    Further, we can extend this to all types of gun violence not just terrorists. We have minority communities that are terrorized by gang violence so why not extend similar logic to random raids on homes known to harbor suspected gang members? Just to be fair, we should have government officials randomly search homes in well to do communities to ensure that their is no disproportionate impact on the minority community. Surely we would ferret out numerous illicit weapons in doing so. Just ask them if that would get more illegal weapons off the street. “We must think of the children is our moral justification.

    Why shouldn’t we use the same “If we can save one child’s life ” argument to show how committed we are to ending needles gun deaths. I am sure that President Obama, the Democratic leadership, and Republicans of the same mindset as Susan Collins would be sure to jump on board for such a proposal. I am sure the Ashleigh Banfield’s, David Gregory’s and Anderson Cooper’s of the press corps would undoubtedly want to sign on as well. Perhaps we could get the Hollywood elite to do PSA’s to tell the bad guys we are coming for you and to straighten up or else.

    However, before we present such a proposal we should work to get members of Congress and the Executive branch to pass legislation that requires immediate ouster from office for any elected leader who willfully violates their oath of office to protect and defend the U.S. Constitution.

  9. Other Bill

    I have a better idea! Ban homosexuals (or maybe even suspected homosexuals) from owning guns and then stand back and watch the explosion.

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