Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 6/18/2017

1. After I criticized Prof. Glenn Reynolds for  his “tit for tat” reaction to the conservatives who disrupted the Central Park production of “Julius Caesar,” I noticed that he had posted a more moderate, ethical and responsible reaction to the same event, writing,

“I’d rather live in a world where this sort of thing wasn’t done at all. But it’s not clear that we’re better off living in a world where it’s done all the time, but only by lefties.”

Muuuch better, professor. Thank-you.


This photo of a “teacher of the Year” being ostentatiously gay in a White House photo with the President was originally posted at the Huffington Post with the headline, “Gay Teacher Photobombs Trump With Fan.” Fake news, but never mind: the photo went viral with the teacher, Nikos Giannopoulos, being hailed for making a disrespectful gesture of defiance, since the LGBT community is committed to the narrative that the President is anti-gay. (He isn’t, but facts and the narratives of “the resistance” are not correlated.)

This account was unfair to both Giannopoulos and the President. I was ready to make him an Ethics Dunce—when you are a guest, you don’t set out to embarrass your host, President or not—until I checked the story. In an NPR interview, the teacher was asked about the President’s reaction to the fan, and replied,

In other words, both the teacher and Trump behaved impeccably, and the President displayed no hostility to a gay pride salute at all. Under no circumstances, however, can anything this President does or says be presented in a positive light. He’ll never be impeached that way.

3.The NFL, the sports world and the left-leaning end of the public endorsed and even praised an incoherent protest by an ethically, legally, historically and politically-confused grandstanding dummy to warp public discourse and further aggravate the police-Black Lives Matter antipathy. The Ethics Alarms verdict on Colin Kaepernick was that he is an Ethics Dunce, and subsequent evidence has proven that verdict correct. Here, for example, was Kaepernick’s  typically nuanced analysis of  the not guilty verdict in the trial of the cop who shot Philandro Castile:

…accompanied by this screed;

“A system that perpetually condones the killing of people, without consequence, doesn’t need to be revised, it needs to be dismantled.”

No one whose reasoning ability, powers of analogy and ignorance of the law is that hopelessly flawed warrants any serious attention at all.

As I said in the first place regarding his kneeling stunt….

“Kaepernick could have salvaged his act by being ready with a well-reasoned, well-stated, articulate and persuasive explanation. Based on what he said, which was ignorant, counter-factual and foolish, we must assume that he actually gave thought to his response, and that this pathetic statement was the best he could come up with. That shows him to be incompetent, ill-informed, and not very bright.”

The tendency of the public and the news media to allow difficult public policy issues to be defined by idiots is a real threat to the nation’s health and well–being.

4. From the Fred Files: Texas Governor Greg Abbott has signed  into law HB 3859 , which allows child welfare organizations, including adoption and foster care agencies, to turn away qualified Texans seeking to a child if the potential adoptees are “LGBTQ couples, interfaith couples, single parents, married couples in which one prospective parent has previously been divorced, or other parents to whom the agency has a religious objection. The bill also allows taxpayer-funded agencies to refuse to provide services to children if the agency has a religious objection to that service. For example, HB 3859 will forbid the state from canceling a state contract with an agency that subjected children in their care to  “conversion therapy.”

Texas on the right and California of the Left appear to be rapidly evolving cultures that are not only incompatible with each other, but also with any national standards of ethics. Since these are our two largest states, this is worrisome. Trustworthy, responsible, persuasive and non-polarizing national leaders are the only remedy for this disastrous trend.

We don’t have any.

5.  Bret Stephens, the supposedly token conservative in the New York Times op-ed pages filed this incoherent and incompetent essay, beginning with a lame and head-scratching call for native-born American to be deported:

“So-called real Americans are screwing up America. Maybe they should leave, so that we can replace them with new and better ones: newcomers who are more appreciative of what the United States has to offer, more ambitious for themselves and their children, and more willing to sacrifice for the future.”

Just kidding! he assures us, but this “satire” rather nicely encapsulates the attitudes of his progressive colleagues, and perhaps him. Most of them don’t like or respect American values such as personal responsibility, free expression, equality under the law, the rule of law and free enterprise. Their job of making the U.S. like the European workers’ paradises the pine for would be a breeze if those too old, too white, too traditional citizens were shipped out in favor of enthusiastic supporters of socialism, income redistribution, free health care and guaranteed jobs.

Apparently Stephens thinks that deporting citizens is no less justified than deporting illegal immigrants. (One wag suggested that the writer is now displaying symptoms of the Stockholm Syndrome, adopting the values of his progressive captors. Well, that would at least be some excuse), writing…

“Beyond the inhumanity of toying with people’s lives this way, there’s also the shortsightedness of it. We do not usually find happiness by driving away those who would love us. Businesses do not often prosper by firing their better employees and discouraging job applications. So how does America become great again by berating and evicting its most energetic, enterprising, law-abiding, job-creating, idea-generating, self-multiplying and God-fearing people?”

“It’s not “toying with people’s lives,” you fool, it’s called enforcing the rule of law and not rewarding or encouraging law-breaking. Who says that law enforcement is supposed to let us “find happiness?” Law enforcement is hard and wrenching, with many victims and regrets, always has been and must be. No nation can “become great again,’ or even long survive, that doesn’t enforce the laws it has in place.

Then Stephens, apparently not kidding, says this:

“Because I’m the child of immigrants and grew up abroad, I have always thought of the United States as a country that belongs first to its newcomers — the people who strain hardest to become a part of it because they realize that it’s precious; and who do the most to remake it so that our ideas, and our appeal, may stay fresh.”

What? Does Stephen also believe that the most recent employees in an organization should make policies? America’s newcomer don’t know the culture. the laws, the values or the traditions of the nation, and they need to pay attention, not start telling citizens how the United States should be more like Cambodia or Mexico. It is not their role to “re-make” anything. They are here to become part of our culture, not to defy it. What is precious about a culture than has no integrity? Ethical values and human rights are always “fresh.”

I don’t know that I have ever read a more irresponsible and nonsensical statement in my life, even in defense of illegal immigration, which can only be defended by irresponsible and nonsensical statements.

11 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 6/18/2017

  1. Jack, you don’t understand. Trump removed stuff about gay people from the White House website, stuff Obama put up. Stuff gay people liked. By taking it down, he has signaled his hatred of gay people.

    Such is the insidious paradigm of progressivism.


      • He has probably also failed to hoist the rainbow flag bang on the first of June. My city still hasn’t hoisted it, in fact we’re flying the flag of Portugal right now because of a festival, and that’s just fine by me. Viva a Republica!

  2. I think this calls for a practical defense of the “turn the the other cheek” philosophy. The first mention in the Bible refers specifically to the RIGHT cheek. Some have surmised that for a right-handed person to hit your right cheek, they’d be using the particularly degrading backhand slap. Therefore, exposing your other cheek to be slapped, prompts the next slap to be with the (slightly) more respectful palm, and gives you more control over the situation.

    Now, merely exchanging literal or metaphorical blows doesn’t make the conflict go away, it just escalates it. Plus, latecomers to the show have no way of knowing who started it. On the other hand, if you can calmly take abuse without dishing it out yourself, you make a stronger case for whatever you are being abused for. As someone who tilts conservative in most issues, I confess to feeling rather smug as I watch the Left dig it’s own grave with their hyper-partisan hate. By the same token, if they REALLY wanted to prove themselves better than the party that elected Trump, all they’d have to do is let Pres. Trump destroy himself. If they show respect for the office even as they point what he’s doing wrong (and make the case for what they’d do better), they juuust might have better results the next election cycle.

    Of course, this doesn’t mean destructive behavior should be allowed to proceed without consequence. Those who disrupt events/gatherings should be removed from the premises by whoever’s in charge. Those who harm property or persons should have the law sicced on them. But no-one should engage in the same nasty, unethical behavior as the opposition.

  3. My comment ate the quote at the beginning: “But it’s not clear that we’re better off living in a world where it’s done all the time, but only by lefties.”

  4. 2. Trump’s reaction to the teacher of the year doesn’t surprise me in the least. I’ve never seen any evidence that he is personally anti-gay, and his embrace of anti-gay policy and politicians during the campaign always struck me as cynical pandering and based on what Trump thought would be best for his campaign, not ideology. (The same could probably be said for most of his positions.)

    I still think gays have every reason to distrust Trump due to his embrace of anti-gay politics, and I think calling him “anti-gay” as a politician is fair; whether or not he will help implement anti-gay policy is much more important to the lives of gay people then whether or not he is friendly to gays on an individual level.

    But good for him for not taking issue with this, and good for the teacher for representing it accurately and being fair to Trump. Boo on the Huffington Post for misrepresenting the situation in the headline.

  5. “Texas on the right and California of the Left appear to be rapidly evolving cultures that are not only incompatible with each other, but also with any national standards of ethics.”

    The social GOP kneejerk reactions to progressives moving our culture Left have, well, ‘deplorable’ results. The GOP has run Texas for too long, and parts of it are now corrupted in social policy or in pandering to big business. The problem is the only viable alternative is the batshit crazy Democrats… we need a third choice!

  6. Ethics warmed-over July 27, 2017:

    “The Department of Justice has filed court papers arguing that a major federal civil rights law does not protect employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation…The department’s move to insert itself into the New York case was an uncommon example of top officials in Washington opining directly in the courts on what is an important but essentially private dispute between a worker and his boss over gay rights issues.”

    What this demonstrates to me:
    -Who cares whether or not the man himself is personally anti-gay? He heads an administration that is unquestionably anti-gay, and aggressively so. His treatment of this teacher and his flamboyant pose only demonstrates (if any evidence were needed) his absolute moral bankruptcy and unfitness as a leader.
    -He lied, flat out, when he promised the LGBTQ community that he would be a stronger advocate for us than HRC would have been. (I’m sure you’ve seen the other recent headline and realize that the “T” stands for “transgender.”)
    -You scolded me, when I worried about the negative impact of his election on my family and on the protection of our civil rights, for engaging in “fear-mongering.” You were wrong. The fears were justified.
    -You need to understand that no self-respecting person or family in the LGBTQ community, nor anyone who’s considers themselves an ally, or even a friend, can do anything other than work to oppose the regressive, unrepresentative, and morally odious agenda of this administrative.
    -We will resist this agenda. Our resistance (for many if not most of us) will endeavor to be not only legal, moral, and ethical, but civil. But we are called to resist and we must.
    -I find it hurtful and, at times, maddening to feel so frequently scolded, shamed (literally), misunderstood, and excoriated as unethical when I read your posts. This is about our lives and our rights, and we’ve been given no choice. I hope you can understand and respect a position that may not conform completely with yours.
    -If you don’t respect this opinion, I don’t see a way to understand it as anything other than advocating the position that LGBTQ citizens and our rights are not equal to yours.

    • I don’t disagree based on what I know, CB. I saw this, and am looking into the case. But note:

      1. Of course, there is no way to know whether the President had anything to do with this decision, or even knows about it. The President is responsible for the acts of his administration, but can’t possibly over-see all the departments and their decisions about what position the Justice Department takes.

      2.The Justice Department is obligated to defend the law as it exists, until it is changed by the legislature.

      3. The Obama administration set a terrible precedent by refusing to defend DOMA in the Supreme Court. It simply can’t do that: laws that are passed and signed by one President cannot be simply declared unilaterally void by another. DOMA was a bad law, and it should have been over-turned, but it’s not the President or Justice’s job to overturn it by neglect.

      So it’s not fair, on its face, to assume that this position is a volitional one or one that tells us anything about Trump or even Sessions without knowing the context. I don’t know the context.

      Still, as you say, the position is not consistent with Candidate Trump’s promise to “protect” LGBT citizens.

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