Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/19/17: The Censorious, The Irresponsible, The Topless, The Panicked, And The Soon To Be Dead

Good Morning!

1 Good-bye Charlie! To get things off to a happy start this Sunday, let’s ponder the news that Charles Manson’s death is imminent. Good. What’s worth pondering is why our society allowed him to live at our expense since 1969. If the justice system has to maintain some ultimate punishment for the worst of the worst crimes  if only to stake out the position that some conduct forfeits the right to exist in a civilized nation—and it does—then Manson should have shuffled off this mortal coil, or rather had it shuffled off for him.

Mark this down as one more area where California has arrived at the wrong answer to an ethics problem.

2. “Knock-knock!” Who’s there? “Child molester!” Child molester who? “Child molester? What child molester? We don’t see any child molesters…” According to internal  documents, the Jehovah’s Witnesses has instructed congregation leaders, called elders, to keep child abuse secret from law enforcement as a matter of policy since at least 1989.

The religious group’s headquarters, known as the Watchtower, sent a letter in 1997 to  local elders across the U.S  instructing them to send to a written report about anyone currently or formerly serving in a position of responsibility known to be have sexually abused a child. A California appeals court last week upheld an order for the Witnesses to pay $4,000 for each day it does not turn over the documents to the court, and the tab currently stands at $2 million. The ruling stems from a case in San Diego, where a man sued the Jehovah’s Witnesses for failing to warn congregants that a child predator was in among them.

Osbaldo Padron was sexually abused as a child by an adult member of his congregation named Gonzalo Campos. Campos confessed to sexually abusing seven children, but although leaders at  the Watchtower knew this,  they continued to promote him to higher positions of responsibility and took no action to protect tne children he came in contact with.

Nice. I guess I’m not going to be polite and chat with those people who knock on my door with copies of the church’s newsletter—you know, “The Watchtower”?—any more.

Is it possible that everyone in the church’s leadership missed the Catholic Church’s scandal in this area? Nobody saw “Spotlight”? Nobody there has a drop of decency or integrity?

Fascinating. Perhaps after he loses his Senate race, maybe Roy Moore will consider a new gig at the Watchtower.

3. Slippery Slope alert! I never focused on what those checkmarks next to some Twitter accounts meant. Apparently the checkmark was meant to denote “that an account of public interest is authentic,” Twitter explained in a series of tweets on this week, but that “verification has long been perceived as an endorsement.”

Ah. So, in other words, Twitter was incompetent in making its own messaging clear.

“This perception became worse when we opened up verification for public submissions and verified people who we in no way endorse,” the tweet-masters continued. So now it is removing te checks, which never were supposed to denote an endorsement, from certain accounts Twitter disapproves of to show their lack of endorsement by pretending that those accounts are not authentic—which is untrue. Or something. So the Ethics Alarms account, I guess, will look like it’s unauthentic or not worthy of endorsement, or worse, been unendorsed for being bad.

Users will now forfeit their checkmarks for “inciting or engaging in harassment of others,” “promoting hate and/or violence against, or directly attacking or threatening other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or disease,” supporting people who promote those ideas, and anything else the left-leaning social media platform decides is virtuous to censor.

Do you trust Twitter to administer this no checkmark=black mark policy objectively and fairly, without employing an ideological double standard and thus giving the advocates of one set of political and social views access to a crucial means of communication that will be withheld from their opponents?

I don’t.

4. Cut the dog in half and throw one half away? Here is an ethics conflict worthy of Solomon. US District Judge Algenon L. Marbley has decided that a sorority sister who uses a service dog can return to live in the Chi Omega house at The Ohio State University pending a trial, even though another sister is allergic to the dog and claims that the pooch is aggravating her medical conditions, including asthma.The stand-off created a zero-sum Americans with Disabilities Act conflict, and ethics zugswang. Faced with a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t mess, Ohio State’s Americans with Disabilities Act Coordinator, Scott Lissner, resolved the dispute based on who signed her lease first. That was the student with the allergy. Nope, said Judge Marbley.Now some poor judge will have to decide which is more of a disability: not being able to breathe, or having panic attacks.

I recommend flipping a coin.

5. And another thing: why is the dog allowed to be naked?  From Reason:

“To protect public health, safety, and morals, the government has an important interest in preventing women from going topless, a federal appeals court has ruled. And the importance of keeping lady breasts out of public view overrules any First Amendment or equal protection issues that such a policy raises.”

We can tell from the tone of that summary where libertarians come out on this silly issue that uber-feminists have been whining about for decades. Men can legally go topless in public, and women can’t. Having been struck blind for 24 hours after an obese, elderly, topless woman sat down on a beach chair across from me at a resort in Acapulco, I have a bias in this matter.

Since public manners, respect for others, and minimal decorum, civility, modesty and decency has been allowed to decline to nauseating levels, I sympathize with the impulse of elected officials to have society lay out some hard lines. I also see little reason why anyone sane would choose to make an issue of this one, especially since the Sue Ann Mischke Principle is real, and certain women walking down Main Street in all their glory can be counted on to turn heads, and cause perhaps fatal crashes.

However, Reason, as it usually does, has a valid point. Since I was also struck blind more than once by the horrifying sight of my 85 year old next door neighbor Tony walking his min-pin shirtless on hot summer days, the easy solution is to make it illegal for either Tony or Sue Ann to parade their bare ta-tas in public. Problem solved.


87 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/19/17: The Censorious, The Irresponsible, The Topless, The Panicked, And The Soon To Be Dead

      • There is NO point where certain people will accept capital punishment, Jack. Western Europe is now firmly against the practice, and countries like Spain are even starting to do away with life imprisonment, encouraged by His Holiness, who has described it as a “stealth death sentence” that takes away any possibility of redemption. I’m personally acquainted with many who will never be ok with it, some lawyers who think there’s too much chance of a mistake that then can never be righted, some Catholics who are against both abortion and the death penalty because the power to decide who lives and dies belongs only to God, and many just opinionated people who say it’s wrong and won’t discuss it beyond that, since we don’t agree, and let’s move on.

        • I’ve been back and forth on the issue. From a strict philosophical standpoint, it’s difficult to entrust a government with the power to execute people it deems criminals. On the other hand, the United States seems to have used this power about as responsibly as it can.

          Mostly I think the issue is people have become inured to criminality. Executions used to be public. This has been described as bloodlust, but it served an important teaching tool: Bad people exist. Nowadays people are completely insulated from crime, so when it happens to them or when they see it they don’t have the mental tools to process it. They’ve been conditioned to look for excuses; we weren’t supportive enough, we didn’t do enough to help them, they were oppressed, etc. This attitude is popular because it’s easy and it feels nice. We’re teaching generations of kids it’s wrong to hold people accountable for their own actions.

      • I always thought it was insane that he still had parole hearings. He was never granted parole, but still…did California law not allow for “life without the possibility for parole” either?

  1. I have heard it is often cheaper to let them live than to put them on death row while exhausting all their appeals. Is there any truth to this and if yes, doesn’t it serve as a better punishment?

    • I dunno how true that is. It MIGHT be not as hard on the family of the victim, who will only have to hear about the scumbag when he is sentenced, and when he reports, and that’s usually the end of the media’s interest in him. If he is sentenced to death they’ll have to hear about him again and again until the sentence is actually carried out, and watch the media and celebrities fall in love with him, like Norman Mailer’s advocacy of the release of Jack Abbott, who killed within 6 months of release. That’s the only upside.

    • This si all due to the U.S. Supreme Court.

      Of course, this delay is a problem of the Court’s own making. As Justice Breyer concedes, for more than 160 years, capital sentences were carried out in an average of two years or less. Post, at 18. But by 2014, he tells us, it took an average of 18 years to carry out a death sentence. Id., at 19. What happened in the intervening years? Nothing other than the proliferation of labyrinthine restrictions on capital punishment, promulgated by this Court under an interpretation of the Eighth Amendment that empowered it to divine “the evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society,” Trop v. Dulles, 356 U. S. 86, 101 (1958) (plurality opinion)—a task for which we are eminently ill suited. Indeed, for the past two decades, Justice Breyer has been the Drum Major in this parade. His invocation of the resultant delay as grounds for abolishing the death penalty calls to mind the man sentenced to death for killing his parents, who pleads for mercy on the ground that he is an orphan. Amplifying the surrealism of his argument, Justice Breyer uses the fact that many States have abandoned capital punishment—have abandoned it precisely because of the costs those suspect decisions have imposed—to conclude that it is now “unusual.” Post, at 33–39. (A caution to the reader: Do not use the creative arithmetic that Justice Breyer employs in counting the number of States that use the death penalty when you prepare your next tax return; outside the world of our Eighth Amendment abolitionist-inspired jurisprudence, it will be regarded as more misrepresentation than math.)

      If we were to travel down the path that Justice Breyer sets out for us and once again consider the constitutionality of the death penalty, I would ask that counsel also brief whether our cases that have abandoned the historical understanding of the Eighth Amendment, beginning with Trop, should be overruled. That case has caused more mischief to our jurisprudence, to our federal system, and to our society than any other that comes to mind. Justice Breyer’s dissent is the living refutation of Trop’s assumption that this Court has the capacity to recognize “evolving standards of decency.” Time and again, the People have voted to exact the death penalty as punishment for the most serious of crimes. Time and again, this Court has upheld that decision. And time and again, a vocal minor-ity of this Court has insisted that things have “changed radically,” post, at 2, and has sought to replace the judgments of the People with their own standards of decency.

      It should be the people, not the courts, that decide evolving standards of decency in an Eighth Amendment context.

    • Although it costs well over a million dollars (reportedly averaging 1.2 to 1.8 million) to execute a prisoner, the claim that it costs more to put them down than to lock them up for life is false. The numbers cited by death penalty opponents are based on the average cost of incarceration per year. Killers sentenced to imprisonment for natural life cost significantly more to incarcerate, as they pose greater security risks. Also, the average prisoner is in his 20s or 30s. Elderly inmates involve much greater medical costs, expenses borne by the state. Combine these two factors, and lifetime incarceration of a murderer can easily cost over two million dollars. ($55,000 annual incarceration cost x 45 years = $2,475,000 plus as much as $390,000 in lifetime medical expenses)

        • I accepted it, because it was quoted in a Con Law class by John Gibbons, who was a former chief judge of the 3rd Circuit and a recognized great Constitutional scholar…as well as a passionate death penalty opponent. I am gratified to know that even the greatest scholars can be blinded by their passions. I might add that often lifers get kidney transplants for the simple reason that it’s cheaper in the long run than giving them dialysis, or get released quietly to die when their health is precarious (although pedophiles usually don’t get that break, since they could still play the harmless grandfather type and reoffend).

              • Their figures aren’t “fake”, in that they accurately reflect the average costs of incarceration for a typical inmate. They simply fail to consider how the extra costs involved in incarcerating someone for the rest of their life would change their final result.

                Someone could reasonably argue with my figures as well (although I believe them to be approximately accurate). I based my cost of incarceration on data developed by the Arizona Department of Corrections, where “lifers” begin their sentences in maximum custody. My approximation for medical costs was not based on correctional data, but was based on the costs listed on some “planning for retirement” websites, which described medical costs incurred by the elderly as well as the costs involved in providing nursing assistance when elderly people are no longer able to care for themselves. One journal I found claimed that incarceration of average inmate over 60 years old costs $70,000 each year, due to their higher medical expenses.

  2. With respect, Jack, Manson was resentenced to life when the death penalty was declared unconstitutional in 1972. He couldn’t BE resentenced to death. The State of California was powerless when the SCOTUS decided that their statute was fatally flawed. Manson is the ultimate underserving beneficiary of moral luck and a Constitution written to make it deliberately difficult to impose the ultimate (and irreversible) penalty. The decision was out of the California authorities’ hands. It isn’t fair to lambaste them for it.

    If anything, I’d reserve your wrath for the 1972 SCOTUS, stacked to the brim with liberals, including far-left Brennan (what was Ike thinking?) stealth liberal Blackmun (guardian of the womb, used here for illustrative purpose, he didn’t vote for the decision), curmudgeon William O. Douglas, who would have died in the saddle if Abe Fortas hadn’t persuaded him to step down, and so on, who let themselves be persuaded that the penalty was wrong as administered.

    It took three years and a whole lot of legislation to bring back the death penalty. You watch, though, there is likely to be another Furman decision down the line. There almost was in about 2008. A determined minority will almost always eventually get its way, and one day we’ll be grinding our teeth wondering why the next mass murderer who raped and killed eight women or terrorist who planted a bomb that took out twenty children in a schoolyard is sitting in his guaranteed 60 feet of space, getting three squares a day and able to take college classes until the day he dies, while the smug liberals look down their noses at us and say “we’re better than that.”

    • This all arises from a sick ideology that it is wrong to punish those who commit crimes like rape and murder, a legacy that began with the Furman decision, to Michael Dukakis vetoing a bill that would have eliminated furloughs for those sentenced to life without parole, while arguing it would ” ‘cut the heart out of efforts at inmate rehabilitation.’”, to Brock Turner receiving a six month sentence for sexual assault.

      Compassion for criminals is what a beta cuck male society does.

      Alpha male societies execute criminals and those who support them.

      It is pretty clear which society is the stronger society.

        • The alt-right is not as bad as Michael Dukakis was, or the California Supreme Court justices that overturned Charles Manson’s death sentence.

          Throughout history, it is the alpha male societies which dominate. Beta cuck male societies are the ones that get dominated, if not exterminated.

          What is supposed to be the upside of showing mercy to the likes of Charles Manson, Willie Horton, and Brock Turner?

          What is supposed to be the downside of seeking revenge against murderers and traitors?

          This is also sentencing should be removed from the judiciary and should be the exclusive province of politicallt-accountable executive officials.

          For if beta cuck male politicians shows mercy to the likes of Charles Manson, Willie Horton, and Brock Turner, they at least to face the voters.

            • Which alt-righter argued that the death penalty is cruel and unusual punishment?

              Which alt-righter argued that denying furloughs to persons serving life without parole would “cut the heart out of efforts at inmate rehabilitation”?

              Which alt-righter defended Brock Turner’s sentence?

              • You’re shitting me with that last question, right? Alt-righters didn’t defend Turner’s sentence because they literally didn’t think he should have been punished at all. I provided links yesterday, but for some reason they didn’t post; Google it. You’ll see alt-righters arguing that it was all the victim’s fault and that rape shouldn’t even be a crime.

                But hey, at least your pro-rape segregation movement isn’t “cuck” enough to oppose the death penalty, ‘cuz that would just be too far!

          • This is performance art right? You’re just pasting funny (because they’re so sad) quotes from some incel group. Right?



  3. “If the bra doesn’t fit, you must acquit!” Anyway, in my state, there are clothing optional beaches for those that want to bare tit in public. You can always keep your glance on the firmer variety if you’re interested.

  4. I can’t agree that someone’s death is a “Good,” though I can accept that it’s very likely a small loss. “Good” is epiphany, reform, a changed life. However improbable, I like to think that we have the necessary capacity to change.

  5. 5.  “and cause perhaps fatal crashes”

    When I was learning to drive my driving instructor had me drive past a beach occasionally so he could look out for topless ladies. I think the whole point of the exercise was to see if I would keep my attention on the road and not let it wander. If I, as a young male could keep myself from being distracted by looking at anything not traffic related then there is no reason why anyone else should not be able to as well. So I think that any crash that happens because the driver lets himself be distracted by what a lady is or is not wearing is entirely the driver’s fault and no blame at all should go to the lady. Anyone who can’t keep themselves from being distracted from any off road sights should turn in their licences now.

  6. “the easy solution is to make it illegal for either Tony or Sue Ann to parade their bare ta-tas in public. Problem solved.”

    On a hot summer’s day it is certainly much more comfortable running without a shirt when the sweat is running down me especially on my longer runs of 10 to 16 km. Also I find working in the garden much more pleasant without a shirt. It seems to me a ridiculous idea to take away some peoples freedoms because others do no enjoy the same freedoms.

    • Maybe there should be “safe spaces” for the no bare tit crowd. Probably the most reasonable solution is laws setting up nudie beaches which you don’t have to take the kiddies to. The cops can always patrol these places to deal with the pervs and horndogs.

      • “Everything you said applies to women too.”

        Yes it does. I don’t expect anyone to complain if I walk down the street without a shirt on and I will not complain if any female does the same.

      • The whole idea is to minimize the areas where one must come down with a hard “this isn’t fair” rule of thumb. The only way I can see to do this is to go your route and say that in practically all instances of life, men, wear a shirt. In only extremely small facets of life, such as swimming, where practicality demands MINIMIZING clothing, yet community simultaneously demands modesty, there you have the gray area where we make the call: Ok, guys can go topless, women, cover your boobs.

        I for one, do not like seeing other topless men in situations where they can avoid it. And yeah, if that means wearing a moisture wicking t-shirt for a jog, then do it.

  7. # 5 Any discussion of “Seinfeld” and the…um…subject (subjectS?) should include the exchange between Jerry & Sidra Holland (played by a very fetching Teri Hatcher) in “The Implant” episode:

    “By the way, they’re real, and they’re spectacular!”

  8. This would be a good time to share that at age 19 while working at Jack-in-the-Box, I was traumatized by a middle-aged, probably-drunk woman who flashed me without my consent, from her car at the drive-through window. Had her husband/boyfriend and what I presume was their daughter in the car as well. #MeToo

      • I’m still seething because Isaac forgot earlier to mention the Hillside Strangler. I didn’t live in California for very many years, but I revere that state’s celebrities, including and especially its murderers who are celebrities. Hey! Light bulb on! How about a bunch of peculiarly motivated killers move out to California, murder a bunch of leftists, overwhelm the courts and the prisons, and thereby in general just flip the bird at the whole messed-up system and its ever more progressive controllers in that state? With a “civil war” like that to fight, who needs secession?

  9. In 2013, a transgender woman named Ashley Del Valle was arrested in Savannah, Georgia, for allegedly exposing her breasts. Like my sweet home Chicago, it’s illegal for women to show their breasts in public in Savannah. Then something magical happened, something that can only happen when transphobia and misogyny combine: Del Valle was placed in a men’s cell because the prison determined that she was “technically a male,” based on what I’m sure was a wonderfully invasive genital examination.

    So hold up: If she’s “technically a male,” then she didn’t commit any crime at all, right? Either she should have been free to bound through the streets braless without consequence, or she should have been placed in a women’s prison, but certainly not arrested for illegal toplessness as a women and placed in a men’s facility… right? Eh, apparently not. Logic be damned, Del Valle was tossed in with men before eventually being locked in solitary confinement “for her own safety.”

  10. #3 Amused me.

    Apparently Twitter’s verification mark, the mark they used to prove that people were actually the people they purported to be, was being seen as an endorsement, so to fix the problem, Twitter made the verification mark into an endorsement. What are they saying otherwise? That the previously verified people aren’t actually who they said they were?

    It was immediately apparent that the de-endorsement process was going to skew left, if not because of the obvious bias of Twitter’s management, and a little bit of thought, then because of the fact that the vast amount of removed marks were from accounts that skewed right.

    “But Jeff, maybe conservatives on Twitter are just worse people!”

    Well, conveniently constructed, obvious argument, I’d argue that everyone on Twitter, on average, is probably worse than the average person who is not on Twitter, by virtue of being on Twitter. That said, Twitter has not been anything approaching as zealous at enforcing the de-endorsing left leaning, and specifically left leaning, minority accounts like say… Tariq Nasheed. Just off the top of my head.

    “But Jeff, maybe they just had a shitlist in the wings, and given enough time they’ll de-endorse all the shitty lefties too”

    And maybe my shit’ll turn purple and smell like rainbow sherbet.

    Look, the smart thing to do would have been to ignore all the politics, and run a neutral platform, if people are poking the TOS, swat them with suspensions until the cows come home, but verify everyone you can be sure are actually the people they say they are. Because now Twitter is on the hook to explain every check mark they have. How long before Trump loses his verification? And how’s that going to go over?

    • Well, conveniently constructed, obvious argument, I’d argue that everyone on Twitter, on average, is probably worse than the average person who is not on Twitter, by virtue of being on Twitter


      To me, the obvious solution is to just ban the people violating the terms. If someone with a blue checkmark is doing that, taking away the checkmark doesn’t solve the problem.

      • I’m OK with that, I just wish Twitter was clearer on what does and does not violate their terms. I’m routinely called very horrible things on Twitter, but I don’t report it because: 1) I’m not a censorious asshat. 2) Mean comments on the internet don’t really bother me, and 3) There’s no doubt in my mind that Twitter will interpret their rules in such a way that *those* mean comments don’t violate their TOS, I mean, I’m white, male and conservative… you know, the Hitler Youth.

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