Ready for an ethical week?
1. In a comment thread about Joe Arpaio’s pardon, the absurd assertion was made that Chelsea Manning was “tortured” at Leavenworth. In knocking down this anti-U.S. propaganda, courtesy of the U.N. and others, I noted that even the U.N. accuser based that assessment on the weird conclusion that Manning was “never convicted of a crime.”
Translation: military courts martial don’t count. Thanks for that opinion, U.N. guy! Why don’t you start your own country?
The other part of the phony torture accusation is the assertion that being held in solitary confinement is torture. Under international law, it is considered “cruel and unusual punishment,” not torture, but… surprise! The U.S. is not governed by international law, much as the globalists wish it were!
Solitary confinement has (rarely) been found by U.S. courts to violate the 8th Amendment when it is of indeterminate duration and without good cause, but that has nothing to do with Manning, who was considered in danger as a traitor in a military prison, and was in solitary for her own protection. The Supreme Court determines what is cruel and unusual punishment in this country, not the U.N., and not international law.
2. I also (I admit it: I knew I would) triggered a freak-out here, and some unfair insults that I will gracefully ignore, by stating that I would have supported execution for Manning, who was and is a traitor. (President Obama commuted her sentence, making the anti-war Left happy but oddly triggering a fraction of the condemnation in the news media that has followed President Trump’s pardoning an 85-year old man facing a minimal jail term. ) The U.S. has been historically reluctant to execute traitors, and in the era where a cyber-leaks can give more aid and comfort to the enemy than Julius and Ethel Rosenberg could have managed in a hundred years, a re-evaluation of that kind, merciful but dangerous policy is over-due for reconsideration. Manning avoided conviction on the worst of the charges against her (then, him) because prosecutors didn’t prove intent sufficiently. Manning claimed that she was just trying to start a “conversation’ about the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and was willing to put classified information into the hands of terrorists in order to do it. If she knew she would be facing the death penalty with some certainty, it is likely that Manning would have thought twice, at least. It’s called deterrence, and in an age where self-righteous low-level types like Manning and Edward Snowden can get U.S. intelligence personnel exposed and killed with a few keystrokes, serious deterrence is called for.
3. Remember when I asked readers to alert Ethics Alarms when the first talking head suggested that out first major hurricane in 12 years was the result of climate change? It took longer than I expected, but the first reported fool was CNN anchor John Berman. He was interviewing Bill Read, the former director of the National Hurricane Center, and asked,
“Is there a why to this? Why there is so much water associated with this storm? One thing we heard from scientists over the last 10 years is that climate change does impact the intensity of many of the storms that we see.”
To his credit, Read assured Berman that the heavy rains had nothing to do with climate change, and everything to do with the typical behavior of this kind of storm. The episode shows 1) how little many journalists (I won’t say all, but it is very close to all) understand the science of climate change, but promote it anyway because it aligns with their partisan politics, and 2) how they will try to generate fake news, which is what “Hurricane Harvey Deadly Rainfall Possibly Caused By Climate Change, Expert Tells CNN” would have been. If Berman was interested in promoting public understanding of the climate change controversy, he would have asked, “Climate change models and Al Gore’s documentaries predicted more and more violent storms as a result of global warming, yet this is the first major hurricane we have seen in more than a decade. How do you account for this?”
4. In the teeth of this renewed attack on U.S. history and culture during the Confederate Statuary Ethics Train Wreck, I asked how long it would be before “Gone With The Wind” was banished from the airwaves. The Orpheum Theatre Group in Memphis, Tennessee just withdrew its annual screening of the classic 1939 film out of concern that some may find it ‘offensive’.
If no one has the courage to stand up for art, expression and history as “the offended” try to strangle cultural diversity out of existence, then Orwellian thought control will be the inevitable result. I don’t blame the “offended” for trying to suppress speech, thought and history as much as I blame the cowards who capitulate to it. Next in the line to oblivion: war movies, movies with guns, “Gettysburg” and John Wayne.
5. Bravo to the Washington Post for its headline, Black-clad antifa attack peaceful right wing demonstrators in Berkeley. Since the Charlotte riots, much of the news media has taken the position that right wing demonstrators are inherently the inciters of violence, and the “counter-demonstrators” are virtuous warriors for good who sometimes get carried away. Of course, the Berkeley riots over the weekend would have been pretty hard for even the Post to spin.
6. Related: I am perplexed and torn regarding the proper ethics analysis of President Trump’s decision to reverse the Obama executive order halting the military from selling military equipment to police departments. He will sign an executive order to restore “the full scope of a longstanding program for recycling surplus, lifesaving gear from the Department of Defense. The gear recycled through the Department of Defense’s 1033 program includes everything from ammunition and vehicles to office supplies… Under that program, assets that would otherwise be scrapped can be repurposed to help state, local, and tribal law enforcement better protect public safety and reduce crime.” I assume that the timing, as various police departments have conspicuously avoided confronting rioters of late, is not coincidental.
National police groups had been pushing for Trump to rescind Obama’s ban, to ensure that local and state police departments aren’t put in danger when responding to active shooter situations and terrorist attacks. Obama’s order, coming after the Ferguson police looked like an invading force when rioting broke out over the Michael Brown shooting, seemed to be a statement that police departments couldn’t be trusted to have such fire power. Can they all be trusted? I wonder if a police department should have to receive permission from a governor to break out the tanks.
Conservative blogger Liz Shield had a disturbing response to the order:
“If you are comfortable having this equipment turned on you, then, by all means, sell military equipment to the police. The police in Berkeley and Charlottesville didn’t use the means they did have to stop or subdue mob violence by lefties. You can bet their equipment and new military toys will be used against you. The next Democrat president will make sure of that.”
7. The MTV music video awards were almost non-stop Trump hate last night. None of it was substantive; most of it was emotional grandstanding and virtue-signaling. If an award show wants to brand itself this way, that’s the choice of the producers and the performers, but they are modelling uncivil, ignorant and hateful conduct, and any future appeals for the nation to “come together,” “talk to each others” and “reject the hate” from this crew will be laughable.
Host Katy Perry began the televised affair with a juvenile skit about her returning from space to discover that the world is “on fire” and that we’re in the midst of a “apocalypse” because Trump won the election. (Maybe you should have come back from “space” in time to vote, Katy!) Then Paris Jackson, having no credentials for a national platform for her infantile political opinions besides being daughter of the late Michael Jackson, called on our young to “resist” the “Nazi white supremacist jerks.” The band 30 Seconds From Mars saluted the violent antifa movement as lead singer Jared Leto wore a ski mask. Pink accepted her Michael Jackson Vanguard Award wearing a ribbon that read “Wake The Fuck Up!” on one side and “Fump Truck” on the other. (During a commercial break and thus not on the air, the song “Fuck Donald Trump” echoed through the arena.) Presenter Pete Davidson from the Saturday Night Live cast wore a t-shirt that read “Dead Presidents.”