Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/27/2017: Gibberish From Congress, Race-Blindness in the UK, Cruel Law Enforcement In Atlanta, And More


1 “Rarrit!!” You will seldom see or hear as excellent an example of Authentic Frontier Gibberish than this word salad belched out by the leader of House Democrats on “Meet the Press” yesterday. Nancy Pelosi attracted so much negative attention with her “Rep. Conyers is too much of an icon to hold accountable” blather that this masterpiece was relatively ignored. Pelosi was asked by Chuck Todd whether she would support releasing to the public the full information behind heretofore secret settlements of sexual harassment accusations against Congressmen, even indispensable, virtuous icons like John Conyers. She said…

“Well, here’s the thing. It’s really important. Because there is a question as to whether the Ethics Committee can get testimony if you have signed a nondisclosure agreement. We’re saying we think the Ethics Committee can, but if you don’t agree, we’ll pass a law that says the Ethics Committee can, a resolution in Congress that the Ethics Committee can…. But there’s no– I don’t want anybody thinking there’s any challenge here to our changing the law and see how people– when we know more about the individual cases. Well, because you know what our biggest strength is? Due process that protects the rights of the victim, so that, whatever the outcome is, everybody knows that there was due process….”

If Chuck Todd wasn’t a partisan hack, he would have recognized his journalistic obligation to say, “That made no sense at all, Congresswoman. Please try again.”

Public pressure is increasing to force Congress to release the names of the members of Congress who paid taxpayer funds to settle with their accusers. Good. Democrats are obviously terrified, and presumably Republicans are as well.

2. That mean Trump Administration insists on enforcing the law. The New York Times had a front page story Sunday about the plight of illegal immigrants in Atlanta. The story, entirely sympathetic to the arrested, deported, and those afraid of being arrested and deported, saying in one headline that “immigrants” (that’s illegal immigrants, NYT editors, a material distinction) fear “even driving.”

“Even driving” without a license.

Here’s a quote to make any rational American’s head explode, about a local journalist who uses social media to warn illegal immigrants when ICE is lurking,

“Asked whether he had any reservations about helping readers evade immigration law, he said he preferred to think he was helping people with no criminal records stay in the country. “Honestly, I believe it’s an honor as a journalist if the people can use your information for protecting their own families,” he said.”

Translation: “I prefer to think of what I am doing as something other than what I am really doing.”

It’s kind of like a newspaper calling illegal immigrants “immigrants.”

3.Let’s visit “The Ethicist”! The current writer of the New York Times Magazine’s “The Ethicist” column is, unlike his predecessors, actual an ethicist, so I haven’t had many opportunities to take him to task. Kwame Appiah punted on this question, however:

I teach at a prestigious private art school. Every year, we take in 600 or so young people with little understanding of how the arts work as an industry. We charge a very high tuition, offer almost no scholarships and load them up with a lot of debt. Even though we claim to offer “career planning,” the illusions of our students are not addressed. Our graduates, even those with a degree in design, rarely find a job in their field. Those who do rarely last long before realizing that they are in a hopeless situation. Most have given up on art within a few years of graduation. When I encounter them, they convey a considerable amount of bitterness about student loans and the education they received. By preying on their naïveté and ignorance, I feel that we are essentially robbing our students. Some colleagues argue that we are not doing anything that Harvard or N.Y.U. isn’t doing — that we are simply a “special place for a certain kind of young adult.” I do not have tenure and have no influence in admissions or tuition policy. Without this job, I am virtually unemployable at my age. Is it wrong to take the “caveat emptor” approach and let these naïve young people continue to pay me through their student loans?

In his reply, Appiah properly notes that the “everybody does it” rationalization is garbage, but concludes,

“Are you obliged to take a public stand on this, at the expense of your career? You are not. Especially because it’s highly unlikely that the school will change its practices as a result. But you certainly shouldn’t mislead any students who ask you about their prospects. The trope of the “starving artist” got established for a reason.”

He’s ducking the real ethics issue, which is, “Is it ethical to continue working at a job after you realize that it harms people?” The answer is, “No.” The inquirer isn’t obligated to immediately quit without any alternate career options, but he ought to begin developing skills, contacts and credentials so he can move out of what he obviously believes is an unethical job.

4. Black Princesses Don’t Matter. From the Chicago Tribune:

“Palace officials announced Monday that Prince Harry is engaged to Meghan Markle, a Northwestern University alumna, confirming months of rumors that the couple was close to tying the knot. The announcement means another grand royal wedding is in the offing — the first since William and and Kate married in 2011. They will be married in the spring.”

This was the big news all over cable this morning as well. Mentioned nowhere that I have encountered thus far, however, is the fact that Markle, an actress, is black, at least by Barack Obama standards. She has an African-American mother and a white father. Even in Great Britain, her racial mix is being generally ignored, even though this is the Royal Family, which is all about bloodlines and heredity. Admittedly Markle is like Jennifer Beals of “Flashdance” fame: many people don’t recognize her heritage. She has never hidden the fact, however, and has spoken publicly about being black.

How healthy and encouraging this attitude is, if it holds! In Great Britain, a prince is engaged to a woman with an African-American mother, and nobody cares. There was more concern expressed over the fact that she is Roman Catholic.

This is the ethical way to regard race.

5. On the other hand…When off-duty NYPD officer Wayne Isaacs was acquitted this month of shooting an unarmed black motorist, there were no widespread protests, no riots, no Black Lives Matter demonstrations. Oh, the deceased’s brother told a reporter that the verdict  “goes to show the system is not for black people. I don’t care how we look at it,” but the result did not ignite another round of claims that police were “hunting” young black men. Why? The reason is that that Wayne Isaacs is also black. Thus the usual presumption of racial animus any time a white cop shoots a black man couldn’t be sustained.

Nonetheless, Isaacs was probably acquitted for the same reason most white cops prosecuted in police-involved shootings go free. Juries think it’s important to give police officers, regardless of their color,  the benefit of the doubt if any doubt can be found. If they say they were in fear of their life, that’s generally enough, because juries know that police must place themselves in harm’s way to protect law-abiding citizens.

30 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/27/2017: Gibberish From Congress, Race-Blindness in the UK, Cruel Law Enforcement In Atlanta, And More

  1. Please! No more Shaun Cassidy songs ever. He embodies everything that was wrong with music in the 1970s. As far as Nancy Pelosi, I think you can blame her inarticulate remarks on senility. I’m thinking of starting a “Please Retire Nancy Pelosi” committee.

  2. # 2 “ ‘I prefer to think of what I am doing as something other than what I am really doing.’ ”

    # 4 ”(Markle) has an African-American mother and a white father.”

    If we apply the George Zimmerman standard of ethnic determination, that would make her a “White Black.”

      • ”Whatever she is”

        Honestly, I didn’t know her ethnicity until I read this this morning; perhaps I’ve “evolved” into Stephen Colbert caliber rare “I don’t see color” air?

        “I think she and Prince Harry will get plently of invitations from the White House.”

        Because he’s a Royal, she’s easy on the eyes, and The Donald is, not to put too fine a Madame Macron point on it, a letch of some renown?

          • “Well, I’ll tell you the funniest is that I’ll go backstage before a show, and everyone’s getting dressed and ready and everything else, and you know, no men are anywhere. And I’m allowed to go in because I’m the owner of the pageant and therefore I’m inspecting it. You know, I’m inspecting, I want to make sure that everything is good.

            You know, the dresses. ‘Is everyone okay?’ You know, they’re standing there with no clothes. ‘Is everybody okay?’ And you see these incredible looking women, and so, I sort of get away with things like that. But no, I’ve been very good.” –Donald Trump

            “I did try and fuck her. She was married…I moved on her like a bitch, but I couldn’t get there. And she was married. Then all of a sudden I see her, she’s now got the big phony tits and everything. She’s totally changed her look…I’ve got to use some Tic Tacs, just in case I start kissing her. You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything…Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”–Donald Trump

            That’s two of many.

            Please, tell me what Trump would have to say for you to consider him a letch.

  3. #1 When are the partisan hacks that put Pelosi in office going to see reality and get rid of her and those like her? Oh wait, what am I saying, she’s representing Californians and there’s not too much in the way of reality seekers out there just a perpetual state of dreaming.

    If you live in California, then own it, it’s yours unless you do something about it.

  4. #2 Who needs laws anyway when we have social justice warriors and the court of public opinion. If you haven’t seen the any of the show The Orville yet at least set aside some time to watch the episode called Majority Rule.

  5. #3 “Are you obliged to take a public stand on this, at the expense of your career? You are not. Especially because it’s highly unlikely that the school will change its practices as a result.”

    Isn’t the sentence I put in bold an unethical rationalization when taken in context with the two sentences proceeding it?

    • This brings up a big problem with higher education today. There are people, like the writer asking for advice, who have taken out large student loans to become highly qualified in a field where the only source of employment is to train others to be like them. There are many college majors that approach this (some of the arts and humanities), but there are some actual fields that have NO job prospects other than get a doctorate in it and teach college. I know someone who got a master’s degree in (I believe) ‘community theater financial administration’ only to find out that no community theaters have the money to hire a full-time master’s level financial administrator.
      I have suggested that higher education is a public service and needs to serve the public. As such, the government has an interest in seeing the the graduates of our colleges meet the needs of our society. To this end, government-subsidized student loans should ONLY be allowed for students who get a degree the government recognizes as a field of need. This would protect the taxpayer and the students.

      • Michael R. wrote, “To this end, government-subsidized student loans should ONLY be allowed for students who get a degree the government recognizes as a field of need.”

        With all due respect; no way, no how, I would ever agree to a government agency dictating what a “field of need” is and restricting dollars based like that.

        • These “field of need” discussions are what ethical career counselors in colleges are supposed to counsel students about. How about the colleges do the ethical thing and remove from their degree programs those “basket weaving” kind of idiotic degrees that have absolutely no public demand and no job prospects.

          • Z, I have to disagree with both you and Matthew (see below). Student loans are guaranteed by Federal money, which means OUR money, taken by threat of incarceration. Thus, they should be good stewards of those funds and insure that they are 1) not wasted and; 2) repaid as quickly as possible and; 3) NOT defaulted. Since a lot of those loans go to support private apartments (2 bedroom) for various parties or frat house fees, academic programs like Black Studies, Womens Studies, The History of Black History Month, Underwater Basket Weaving and numerous other simply unemployable programs, then there should, indeed be some regulation of the “field of study” for which the loan is being granted. If for no other reason, employability after the degree is granted seriously affects the probability of default, which, in turn, effects the amount of money being extorted from us by the Fed.

            • dragin_dragon,
              I understand your argument I just simply disagree with a government entity dictating this kind of thing, yes the government should be good stewards with our money (hasn’t happened much) but to deny people a basket weavers design degree in colleges in Columbus Ohio because the average basket weaver can’t find a job in the rest of the USA is not logical, Longaberger basket company is just east of Columbus. This is not what the government should be doing.

              Here another problem; if the economy is in a severe slump, like we saw some years ago, or even a full blown depression and lots of people lose their jobs, a lot of those unemployed people search out getting retrained in college in search of advancement in their career when they get back in the job market; however, if the job market is at a nearly no hiring flat line or decreasing employees across the board then virtually all of the degree programs would be put on the unemployable programs list (except maybe teaching) because there are currently no friggin jobs available in the economy.

              Government is also way to politically motivated; if partisan hacks in government don’t want abortion doctors then they won’t loan money for that, if they don’t want strong political oppositions then maybe they would stop funding political science degrees, if they wanted stupid sheeple for their constituency maybe they would stop education degrees, the partisan influence on such things could be endless and it could have bad results.

              The correct thing to do is to properly educate potential college students to make better choices for an actual planned future instead of a random get a job future; for instance a four year University degree specializing in the engineering and design of the internal combustion engine serves no genuine practical purpose if all you are motivated to do is to work 8-5 Monday thru Friday as a grease monkey at your local auto repair shop and drink with your buddies on Friday and Saturday night – go to a freaking technical school/college.

              That’s just some stuff.

        • Field of need doesn’t seem ethical.

          “Ability to repay” is what any ethical, responsible lender should be doing. Loaning money out, knowing that the student is going to default and doing it anyways because the government backs the loan isn’t ethical. Neither is the system that incentivises such loans by backing them up regardless of the ability of the degree to result in a good paying job.

  6. 4. “How healthy and encouraging this attitude is, if it holds! In Great Britain, a prince is engaged to a woman with an African-American mother, and nobody cares. There was more concern expressed over the fact that she is Roman Catholic.”

    Juxtapose that with America for a minute. In the last midterm election there were four trans people elected to office. (Which perhaps deserves some head scratching… trans people being such a small slice of the pie, that so many chose to run is statistically unlikely, part of me wonders how much encouragement they got, and part of me wonders if this is just an anomaly…. We’re talking about four people… statistics don’t really apply with such small numbers.

    Regardless! The left leaning media is positively swooning over their virtue regarding that. It got so bad that one of the newly minted electees actually admonished a news organization that used the headline similar to: “Transgender Official gives Thanksgiving Message” by Tweeting a response, “I have a name, you know.”

  7. Regarding #5:

    The fact that the accused was an officer was only relevant in NYC because ordinary citizens can’t carry a loaded weapon in their car, only officers. Go outside NYC, Chicago and Washington DC, and it could be a story involving any citizen who chose to conceal carry.

    These stories do happen, and the outcome is always the same. When you have one person who responds to a road rage incident by getting out of the car and going after another person, it creates reasonable fear. There is no doubt who is the aggressor. In most places, this would never go to trial whether the shooter was an officer or not.

  8. #4 – maybe the royals are feeling the pinch in the U.K. and are thinking about diversifying their political portfolio to the U.S. Would be interesting for one of Harry’s future children to become president.

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