Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 7/18/17

It’s an All-Fred Morning!

Every day, Ethics Alarms head scout Fred sends me multiple suggestions for posts from he finds heaven-know-where. Even when I can’t fit them in, they often serve as references and always are enlightening.

1. I suspect this belongs in the Polarized Nation of Assholes files: For two years, since he returned from service combat zones in Iraq and Afghanistan, Lieutenant Commander Joshua Corney, has kept his promise to salute his fallen comrades in arms by playing a recording of Taps every evening before 8:00 p.m on his five-acre property in Glen Rock, Pennsylvania. It takes 57 seconds. It does not exceed volume limits. My dog barks longer that that every night after midnight when we put him out. Nonetheless, some of Corney’s neighbors have filed objections with the  borough. Now Glen Rock, which allows church bells to ring, among other sounds, ordered Corney to limit the playing of taps to Sundays and what it termed “flag holidays.” Each violation of the borough’s order would bring a criminal fine of 300 dollars. But the borough’s enforcement action involves two big constitutional no-nos: the heckler’s veto and content-based censorship. The borough is relying on a nuisance ordinance that prohibits sound that “annoys or disturbs” others, and just one individual annoyed by the somber Civil War era bugle solo is enough to deliver a “heckler’s veto.’

The ACLU is on the case, and backing Corney as he fights the action. It writes,

“If a “heckler” could shut down anyone who said or played something that annoyed or offended them by complaining to government officials, freedom of speech would be no more. For more than 75 years, it has been black letter First Amendment law that the government cannot censor speech simply because it is not universally appreciated.

Moreover, the borough cannot use its vague nuisance ordinance to single out only Lt. Commander Corney’s musical expression for censorship from the range of sounds that are part of the borough’s regular sonic landscape. The borough has not ordered Lt. Commander Corney to lower the volume of taps or claimed he has violated a noise-level ordinance.

And it could not claim such a violation because the recording neither exceeds any established noise levels nor is it as loud as many other sounds the borough tolerates — including many sounds that do not communicate a message, like lawnmowers, leaf blowers, chainsaws, and vehicles. Censoring clearly protected expression, like taps, for being too loud, while allowing louder sounds that carry no constitutionally protected message turns the First Amendment on its head.”

Bingo. It is in cases like these that the American Civil Liberties Union shows how essential its role is in protecting the freedoms here that are so frequently under attack.

2. I was surprised when I learned some time ago that undercover police officers used to routinely have sexual relations with prostitutes before arresting them (homosexuals too, when they werebeing persecuted and  prosecuted). Just two months ago, Michigan became the last state in the U.S. to make it illegal for police officers to have sexual intercourse with prostitutes in the course of an under-cover (or covers) sting. Now Alaska wants to go an additional step, banning “sexual contact” with “sex workers” entirely. This could be mere touching or kissing. Advocates of Alaska’s House Bill 73 and Senate Bill 112 argue that police catching sex workers in the act by engaging with them sexually is a human rights violation, and Amnesty International has made an official statement supporting that claim: “Such conduct is an abuse of authority and in some instances amounts to rape and/or entrapment.” Police, quite logically, point out that the bill would make  successful undercover investigations impossible, which is, of course, the whole idea.

“[The prostitutes] ask one simple question: ‘Touch my breast.’ OK, I’m out of the car. Done. And the case is over,” Anchorage Police Department Deputy Chief Sean Case told the Alaska Dispatch News in a hypothetical example. “If we make that act (of touching) a misdemeanor, we have absolutely no way of getting involved in that type of arrest.”

Ethics Alarms is anti-prostitution. As with recreational drug use and probably polygamy, prostitution, which harms families and the young women and men exploited and abused to support it, is almost certainly on the road to legalization. Government won’t protect vital society ethics norms, but it will order you to buy health insurance because it’s for your own good.

3. You may have seen the Kaboom!-worthy story about the airliner stuck on the tarmac in a flight delay at at Denver International Airport, resulting in a 4-month old infant on board nearly dying from the heat inside the plane.

The mother of the infant, Emily France  has hired a lawyer who specializes in airline safety law to keep the pressure on the airlines, in this case, United. “There is no reason why heat bad enough to cause people to pass out is happening in cabins,” says her attorney. Still, this incident should be seen as part of the industry’s increasingly visible spectrum of poor decision-making, incompetent staff, rigid adherence to policies when they don’t apply as intended, and a lack of common sense. It isn’t just one pilot and flight crew being too ignorant to know that an infant is in danger when a plane temperature tops 90 degrees.

4. Speaking of Kabooms, Salon-–you know, the extreme-left leaning online magazine that routinely twists ethics, truth and reason in the service of the Progressive Paradise to come?—was even offended by this: The Democratic National Committee is not only still paying Donna Brazile, but also allowing her to represent the party. Writes an obviously exasperated Salon’s Sophia MacClennen,

On July 7 I got an email from Donna Brazile…asking me for money and each of them trying to suggest that I should have faith in the Democratic Party to uphold democratic values.It was a stunning sign of how politically tone-deaf the Democratic Party has become and it proves that the party has zero interest in operating with integrity…

Brazile is a perfect example of the DNC’s insider clique and its complete disrespect for the democratic process.  When Wikileaks dumped a bunch of emails from DNC insiders it revealed that Brazile had passed on questions to the Hillary Clinton campaign to give her an edge in debates against Bernie Sanders during the presidential primaries. When the emails were first dumped, Brazile denied she had cheated.

But it’s worse than that. She didn’t just deny it, she went on a righteous rant. “I did not receive any questions from CNN,” she said in a Fox News interview last October. “As a Christian woman I understand persecution, but I will not stand here and be persecuted because your information is totally false.”

Stop and think about that for a moment, because that sort of bald-faced lie is the exact thing that the DNC is excited to discover in the Trump team’s stories about their ties to Russia…In the months when she was interim DNC chair, Brazile went on totally lying about her transgressions until she finally admitted to doing it, but stated that she felt no remorse.In November, shortly after the election she confessed to the passing on of questions to the Clinton camp, but refused to apologize: “My conscience — as an activist, a strategist — is very clear,” she said in an interview with talk-radio host Joe Madison.

As her [DNC] email closes Brazile cautions that once one discovers that a group has tried to undermine our democracy we should expect more of the same: “this isn’t the first time Donald Trump and his cronies have tried to undermine our democracy, and it won’t be the last.”

It’s an astonishing example of a lack of self-reflection, self-awareness and political sense. Brazile was busted for being unethical, she then tried to cover it up, and when forced, she issued a half-assed apology. But she has the nerve to end her email saying: “We have to keep pushing back . . . and do everything in our power to protect our right to vote.” Well, I say we all have to push back on a party that allows a discredited and unethical person to pose as a symbol of positive party values.

It is also encouraging that the overwhelming majority of Salon commenters agree with MacClennen.

17 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 7/18/17

  1. 4) I agree with you about parody sites needing to publish disclosures obviously. See, when Salon publishes an article like that one, it makes me less able to believe the rest of its articles are intentional parody.

  2. 3) I wonder what kind of market forces are keeping new entries into the Aviation Industry from undercutting the big names through new efficiencies and new commitments to quality at a better price? Then the big names would be incentivized to get their acts together.

    • Right? It is almost as if some all powerful entity was backing all of these bad decisions by threatening anyone who questions them with being locked in a cage, or even as though they are granting some sort of power to the airline so as to prevent competition.

    • 1) The insane amount of capital needed to fund even a regional startup. Even more capital would be needed to dent a UA or AA since they go everywhere.

      2) The alliances setup with world carriers are another barrier.

      3) All of the high volume (hence profitable) airports are overbooked. Since they are all government owned, cronyism in the extreme is afoot.

      More likely is regionals to grow and supplant the big carriers.

      • 1) At least to start one up in a competition stifling environment, no doubt. But then again, new successes start somewhere and require alot of hard work. (I think that’s a bigger terror than capital). I wonder what market conditions existed to allow a few yester-year regionals to so command the market now?

        2) So, cartel-like behavior on a world stage…?

        3) Ah, the G-word.

  3. 2) This one feels like 2 separate ethics topics:
    2.1) Entrapment, or how to catch someone engaged in illegal conduct without the state essentially engaging in illegal conduct as well. Drug stings, prostitution stings, etc. These seems like crimes that for the most part have to be allowed to continue in the dark while only busting the MOST obvious and ethically “catch-able” instances. It’s vaguely similar to the pro-abortion argument: “well, how are you going to enforce anti-abortion laws…if a woman wants to kill her child, she’ll find away to do it”. Yes, I agree, some instances of crime cannot be easily combatted, and in some instances the high level of risk particular criminals accept may be all society can settle on. However, that leads to:

    2.2) The conduct still has to be seen as illegal if indeed the greater community considers the conduct as undermining the community.

    • I see undercover drug agents trying to infiltrate a drug cartel to identify the structure and leaders as a permissible situation where I would not object to drug use if it were necessary to survival and infiltration. I’ve not had a good opportunity to understand if that’s something they permit in any way.

      • True, the whole gaining of “cred” in an organized crime situation does, to a degree, require demonstrating a willingness to commit crime. But, to extremely summarize a very long discussion, I think when it comes to fighting organized crime, the community might have to get closer to “war ethics” than it realizes (while still bitterly clinging onto “Due Process” and “rule of law” ethics).

  4. On 4, I am surprised you mention most of the comments agree with the assessment, most of my progressive friends are of the mind that the emails indicating wrongdoing happen to be doctored or otherwise faked and stuffed in with a bunch of legitimate emails.

    I suppose it’s because Donna finally admitted to it, even then I wouldn’t be surprised to see it be spinned somehow.

  5. “ ‘My conscience — as an activist, a strategist — is very clear,’ she said in an interview with talk-radio host Joe Madison.”

    Not only has she absolved herself of any-n-all earthly ethical constraints (The ends justify the means), her only qualm seems to be that she got caught.

    ¡No hay problema! Catch me once…

    The money quote:

    “if I had to do it all over again, I would know a hell of a lot more about cybersecurity.”

    Perhaps a private server?

  6. 4) Both political parties are working to become the Aristocracy, with less and less of a chance of an outsider breaking in, and less chance of change to the corrupt system that lines their pockets, feeds their egos, and gives them power.

    Gun Control is about power and a threat to those in power, not the feel good propaganda we are fed. When gun laws are proposed that only impact legal gun owners, the writing on the wall is clear: the elite are afraid of an armed population.

    Economic Control is about picking winners and losers (for personal benefit of those in power) while weaving a web of bureaucratic rules (having the force of law) such that anyone can be targeted and eliminated as a threat, should it become desirable. The recent EPA ‘Waters of the US’ rule was such a power grab, where land owners with even an isolated cattle tank fell under federal jurisdiction.

    Immunity to the laws the aristocracy creates is a lynch pin in this system. Already, Congress is exempt from many of the laws they impose on the ‘little’ people. Insider trading is an example, enriching public servants and prosecuting average citizens. Hillary Clinton breaking laws at the same time other citizens were incarcerated for EXACTLY the same acts is another example. Justice is no longer blind, as laws are unequally enforced. Note that ‘hate crime’ laws are the same dodge: we get to make certain lives more important than others, in effect creating second class citizens of those we choose as less valuable.

    Note that popular revolt is how historical aristocracies fell…

      • Can I steal a progressive sophistry about socialism, and assert it has failed in the past just because the right people have not been in charge?

        No? Well, if a revolt could end up in a Republic, it would be where it did once already.

  7. “ ‘My conscience — as an activist, a strategist — is very clear,’ she said in an interview with talk-radio host Joe Madison.”

    She might as well say, my conscience as an incompetent ass and criminal jerk is very clear.

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