Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 6/20/17

1. It isn’t just the President’s boorish role modelling and the misbehavior and incivility of his opposition that makes me fear for the ethics alarms of our rising generation. The long-term results of people being able to isolate themselves from social contact—and the social skills and sensitivities that direct, face to face contact nurture—by constant attention to electronic devices is a matter for concern. Yesterday, I became aware of another danger.

I heard, on the new Sirius-XM Beatles channel, a recording of Paul McCartney singing my favorite song from “Guys and Dolls,” a sweet ballad sung in the musical by an elderly father to his grown daughter during her romantic crisis.

McCartney has a foot in two cultures and always has. As much as a rock and pop innovator as he was, Paul was also steeped in the traditional love songs of his parent’s generation, including Broadway. Today both of McCartney’s feet are planted where nobody under the age of 30 is likely to tread, and that is natural. Yet it seems that popular music is increasingly devoid of tenderness, empathy and compassion. Hip-Hop, particularly, seems immune from being able to express a sentiment like that in Frank Loesser’s nearly  70-year-old song that Paul McCartney obviously understands. I wonder, and worry. how many of today’s young Americans understand it, or will grow up with the capacity to do so.

Here’s Bing crooning the same song…

You know I love ya, Bing, but the Moptop wins this round.

2. There was some discussion on a thread here yesterday about the ethics of interests outside the state putting so much money into Georgia’s 6th congressional district’s special election. The House was designed to give communities a say in the national government, so to the extent that a local election is warped by interests outside the community—the Democrat, Jon Ossoff, is a carpetbagger who doesn’t live in the district—it’s a violation of the spirit of the Constitution and the ideal of American democracy. Some have even made an analogy to foreign governments interfering in U.S. elections. On the other hand, all this outside “interference” consists of are words, ads, and marketing. The district’s residents still are the ones who vote. If they are so easily swayed by slick ads and robocalls, that’s their responsibility. (There may even be a backlash.)

3. The conventional mainstream media wisdom, at least until  Ossoff loses, is that the election is a referendum on President Trump. How can an election involving two human beings of varying skills, presentations and policy positions be a true referendum on anything except that candidates themselves? This is a false narrative. Why, for example, isn’t it a referendum on women in Congress, since former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel is trying to be one? That would have been Hillary Clinton’s argument, and the media’s, Handel was a Democrat.

I heard a CNN reporter say this morning that “the stakes couldn’t be higher” in the election, because if Ostroff wins, “it will give the Democrats crucial momentum in their opposition to President Trump.”

A. Are Democrats so stupid that they really believe this?

B. Is the news media that stupid? What this fatuous statement really means is If Ossoff wins, we will spin it to mean that the public has turned on President Trump.” It’s an advance  fake news warning.

C. Does the news media think that the public is so stupid that it will accept the argument that the results of a special election in  Georgia 6 mean anything other than the voters in that district chose to vote a certain way? I think the news media does think that…because bias makes you stupid.

4. In addition to yesterday’s ruling striking down the government’s power to tell businesses what’s “offensive, SCOTUS also issued another unanimous opinion protecting the First Amendment, in a case Ethics Alarms discussed here.

North Carolina had a law that prohibited sex offenders from using social media. How could any qualified legislator think that suppressing free speech like that would ever be upheld by the Supreme Court? When this Supreme Court rules unanimously, it signals that some lawmakers are very, indeed outrageously, out of touch. Incompetent, even.

5.  Now that young Otto Warmbier has died, the finger-pointing has begun in earnest. Also on the docket are retroactive condemnations of published attacks on Warmbier before he arrived in the U.S. in a coma, like this obnoxious knee-jerk social justice warrior bigot, who wrote on the Huffington Post last year…

“As shocked as I am by the sentence handed down to Warmbier, I am even more shocked that a grown man, an American citizen, would not only voluntarily enter North Korea but also commit what’s been described a “college-style prank.” That kind of reckless gall is an unfortunate side effect of being socialized first as a white boy, and then as a white man in this country. Every economic, academic, legal and social system in this country has for more than three centuries functioned with the implicit purpose of ensuring that white men are the primary benefactors of all privilege. The kind of arrogance bred by that kind of conditioning is pathogenic, causing its host to develop a subconscious yet no less obnoxious perception that the rules do not apply to him, or at least that their application is negotiable.”

Ethics Rule: If the criticism was valid when the guy was alive and imprisoned in a hell-hole, it must still be valid after that hell hold kills him. But using this one reckless youth as a symbol of “white male privilege” was never valid, and a cheap shot from the start.

Criticism is also intensifying against  Young Pioneer Tours, the company that convinced poor Otto that North Korea was a perfect place to go for a vacation. Ethics Scout Fred found this piece, which suggests that the tour company misrepresented the perils of the destination and may have some liability in Warmbier’s fate.

And yet…when a promotion contains a statement as absurd as “Despite what you may hear, North Korea is probably one of the safest places on earth to visit,” when does “Let the buyer beware” become a reasonable standard?

54 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 6/20/17

  1. The democrats running a carpetbagger is already evidence of how little they care for their constituents. (Of course, Hillary was a carpetbagger when she ran for Senate as well, so this is really not new.)

    A House member is supposed to live and be involved in their district’s lives, so they know what is important to the people hiring them. Living elsewhere makes that hard to do, especially if you are rich and live in a gated community outside of the region. This makes it a pragmatic power play, and a perversion of our system.

    Note that if the GOP has done this, it is still wrong. This is a political elite problem, and the GOP want to be in that club as much as the Democrats.

    This race is more about bragging rights than the people of district 6, and that is a shame.

  2. Hip-Hop, particularly, seems immune from being able to express a sentiment like that in Frank Loesser’s nearly 70-year-old song that Paul McCartney obviously understands. I wonder, and worry how many of today’s young Americans understand it, or will grow up with the capacity to do so.

    How odd. I know that if I’m not particularly familiar with a genre, I do my best to avoid sweeping statements about it. The kids are alright. Hip hop is littered with sentimental songs about and to children. While I tend to think the sub-genre a bit treacly, it is definitely a substantial enough one in hip hop. This one, by Lauryn Hill, is probably my favorite of the genre:
    It’s called “Zion”, the name of her firstborn son.

      • True, she is now. How old were McCartney and Sinatra when they sang their versions? Zion is considered something of a hip hop classic at this point.

        At this stage of hip hop, it’s mostly emo rap/trapping/mumble rap. Sometimes if you are lucky, all three. But just scanning the Billboard top 20 rap singles, it’s pretty obvious that hip hop is not the toxic masculinity stereotype that you imagine. The first clue that Drake is featured prominently on a few entries. Any contribution by him is guaranteed to be a tearjerker and/or whinefest about how hard his life is and why his girlfriend doesn’t love him and left him.

        What I am saying is that if anything, hip hop has gotten noticeably “softer” since Hill penned Zion, not harder. Jay Z wrote a moving song about the his wife’s Beyoncé’s miscarriages and how torn up he was, and subsequently, his joy when they finally had their daughter. And no one thought that was strange or out of character.

  3. 5 is making the rounds now, and the articles and comments I’ve seen from people who are actively defending WaPo is toxic and disgusting. This is a test for progressives and SJWs… Anyone that reads anything about this case, now especially, but even as it was developing, and thinks that it would be a great time and scenario to build a case for “toxic white privilege”, you have exhibited a signature significance level amount of douchery.

    It’s actually heartening that a lot of the lefties I talk to actually get it though.

    • I think she makes a lot of sense. If, as I’ve been repeatedly assured, there is no such thing as a white American culture, it was definitely a display of some toxic American privilege.

      • Who has ever said there isn’t white male culture? But white male culture doesn’t include stealing stuff in communist hellholes where you will get thrown into prison. This was one guy, and one stupid, stupid act. It proves nothing and symbolizes nothing.

        If a black tourist had mugged someone and some ass had written that this was just black male culture coming out, you would mark that as racist, and rightfully so.

        This was stupid person culture., like Ryan Lochte urinating in public at the Rio Olympics.

        • You yourself have told me in a previous thread that there is no such thing as white American culture. I still tend to disagree with that, but it is an unnecessary analysis in this situation.

          I agree that it is stupid, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it nonetheless isn’t an example of “American privilege.” You can see countless examples whenever Americans cluster abroad. We somehow think the rules don’t apply to us, and if we are caught doing something illegal, well, our government will swoop in and save us from our own stupidity. It’s one of the many reasons Americans garner such a bad reputation as tourists overseas. Otto may have thought he was merely engaging in some hijinks, and probably wanted a memento of his time in the forbidden zone, but the audacity of going to North Korea in the first place, and then breaking their rules is just slightly further along the spectrum than American tourists repeatedly handing out bibles in other countries after being warned not to, getting arrested, and only then does the gravity of the situation hit them. Not everywhere is the United States, where the rules can sometimes be overlooked for certain people.

          • This is admittedly a gross generalization, but the rules can sometimes be overlooked for certain people is a pretty common state of affairs in every culture.

            • I agree with that statement. It’s the “who” the rules can be overlooked for that changes in each culture. But too many Americans think that they are the “who,” no matter where they travel. And often, they are correct. And sadly in some cases, they are quite wrong.

              • I can see this, deery.

                My own observation from the Military. Visiting civilians would often be surprised to eat with the enlisted troops as opposed to the Officer’s mess. They seem to assume they are equal to officers, and the large majority are not.

                Congressmen got to eat with the officers. Senators usually would, but Reps usually chose to be with the ‘little folks.’

          • 1) Context, please. What thread?
            2) The issue was here about white MALE culture, not white American culture. There is American culture, and if we were talking about American arrogance abroad and tendency to ignore local customs, that’s accurate, but it has nothing to do with being white or male.

            • 1). I can’t really remember, but it was fairly recently. Probably one of the “Get Out” threads.

              2.) So you agree that there is a white male (American) culture, and also a broader American culture? But you don’t think Otto’s actions were a prime example of the “frat boy ” culture that people commonly term white male American culture ?

              • You know deery… There’s a story right now going through the papers about a 17 year old Muslim girl who was kidnapped, beaten with a bat, killed and dumped in a pond.. I’m working off memory, so this might be wrong, but I’m fairly certain that was in Virginia.

                When the story first broke, I thought it was a continuation of what I think is going to be a trend following the asshat who’s name I’m choosing not to learn driving a truck through a crowd outside a mosque in London.

                But no… As new facts come out we learn that the kidnapping, murdering douchenugget in this case also happened to be an illegal immigrant. Not exactly your average Trump supporting white supremacist type, to say the least.

                But, I digress. Gee, just like we hear about Americans who do bad things abroad, there sure seems to be a lot of illegal immigrants who rape and murder people. Maybe that’s Toxic Hispanic culture? Illegal Alien culture?

                What do you think, deery?

                • Gee, just like we hear about Americans who do bad things abroad, there sure seems to be a lot of illegal immigrants who rape and murder people. Maybe that’s Toxic Hispanic culture? Illegal Alien culture?

                  It isn’t just committing crimes. It’s the committing petty crimes in a foreign hostile land, and then the genuine puzzlement that one is being treated harshly in a country that starves its own citizens to death. If this immigrant becomes a cause celebre in his own native country, then we can revisit the issue.

                  Meanwhile people get boiled alive and starved to death in prison here, and there is a distinct lack of attention and outrage.

                    • It happened, once. I forget which prison, but staff was using scalding hot showers as a punishment for bad behavior, and the last time it was done, they killed the inmate.

                      It’s a spectacular and embarassing case… The death was deemed accidental (they meant to torture the inmate, not kill him) and as far as I know no charges were laid.

                    • It happened, once.

                      Which means it is a false equivalence. The abuses in many foreign countries are consistent; here they are the exception.

                  • You know, I was pretty steeped in American culture, and my mother was a habitual abuser of international law, as when she stole a piece of the Parthenon, the family shame. “It was just a little piece!” It would no more have occurred to me, in my travels abroad as a teen and later, to break local law and custom than fly.

                    Assholes act like assholes wherever they are.

                  • I’m not sure that really answers what I said… The crimes you’re talking about are specific? Rape, and murder is a list of two. The crimes you’re talking about are petty? Much of culture is petty. No, what you can’t see, because you’re so dunked in Social Justice Kool-aide is that there’s no logical device that lets you take the examples of Americans acting poorly overseas and label it “American Culture” or “White, Male American Culture” that does not enable someone to call rape and murder part of “Illegal Immigrant Culture”. And if you aren’t comfortable with that, then maybe you should examine your original premise.

                • I don’t. But I was stipulating to your previous assertion that there was no such thing as “white American culture,” only “American culture.”

          • If a belief in judicial fairness is “American Privilege” then as opposed to calling that toxic and demonizing Americans for having it, maybe that’s the kind of privilege we should be trying to spread.

        • “But white male culture doesn’t include stealing stuff in communist hellholes where you will get thrown into prison.”

          I think without question there IS a young-male-on-an-adventure culture that builds into individual egos, not a sense of entitlement, but a sense of invincibility that does increase the likelihood of reckless and brazen conduct.

  4. Re McCartney: Interestingly, my son discovered the Beatles when he was nine years old, and remains an avid fan. (He’s in his 20s today.) He also listens to skaa music and hip hop. I’m not sure what this means except that he has eclectic tastes and is both a child of his times and inquisitive person who does not automatically reject the tastes of his peers. (He also knows more history than I do: learned on his own.)

    Re SCOTUS decision: See my previous post on this. The three branches of government was a brilliant concept by the Founders.

  5. “Yet it seems that popular music is increasingly devoid of tenderness, empathy and compassion.”

    1) De-sanctification of sexual intercourse. That is, it’s removal from a protected and respected status in the community and the resultant cheapening as a mere tool of fun and as a perceived consequence-free means to a recreation-oriented ends.

    2) The associated inability or unwillingness of the older generation to teach the value and the need of intimacy or that generations paying of lip-service to intimacy while not being able to teach HOW to actually forge intimate relationships.

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