Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/27/2018: “If You Want It, Here’s How To Get It” Edition

Good Morning (and I hope you all feel better than I do).

1 Tide Pod Update: If you want more libertarians, here’s how to get them.  At the Fortune site, Harold I. Ziegler writes,

Recently, videos have circulated on social media showing teens deliberately eating Tide Pods laundry detergent packs. All of this is part of what some call the “Tide Pod Challenge.” These pods contain highly concentrated laundry detergent under pressure and explode when bitten into, releasing their toxic contents and causing rapid ingestion and inhalation of dangerous chemicals. In my capacity as a toxic chemical researcher and consultant, I have investigated and seen several instances of the horrendous consequences that result from laundry pack ingestion: permanent burning of the mouth, throat, digestive tract, and lung tissue, and in some cases even death.Procter & Gamble (P&G), the manufacturer of Tide Pods, as well as other companies selling laundry detergent packs, have acted in the past to stem the misuse of their products. But these safety measures have failed.

It’s clear that laundry pods as they currently exist are too dangerous to be sold to the public. If P&G and other manufacturers can’t figure out a way to reduce the more than 10,000 injuries they cause each year, laundry packs need to be taken off the market.

If there is a better example of the thought processes that create nanny states and push society to eliminate personal responsibility, accountability and autonomy from its values, I can’t think of it. If people persist in the “Hit Yourself In The Head With a Hammer Challenge,” ban hammers.  How do intelligent, educated people end up thinking like this? More amazing still is that a consultant can put out an addled argument like this one for public consumption—Wait! Harold’s opinions make people stupid, and we can’t seem to stop people from reading them! Using Harold’s logic, we better ban freedom of expression! Or Harold!—and still be able to persuade clients to pay for his advice.

2. But if it’s more white nationalism you want, here’s how you get THAT…San Francisco Acting Mayor London Breed, an African-American, was voted out at by her colleagues Board of Supervisors in favor of Mark Farrell, who is white. The Horror.  will replace her as interim mayor until voters select a new mayor in June. As soon as it became apparent that the first African-American woman to lead San Francisco, albeit only because the elected mayor died suddenly, was being replaced by a white male, black citizens in the room erupted with rage, with many leaving in protest, and others shouting, “Shame, shame, shame.” “This is war!” some shouted as the meeting ended.


In related news, the Congressional Black Caucus announced that it will boycott the State of the Union speech.

3. Or maybe it’s civil war you want…The mainstream news media was going nuts over the Mueller investigation yesterday, proclaiming that it was “heating up” and throwing all sorts of hope-bombs to my deranged “resistance”  Facebook friends. This was all brought on because The New York Times, again citing hearsay evidence from anonymous sources, plastered a story on its front page about how the President was about to fire Mueller, but was talked out of it. Believe it or not, people who were once as normal as you or I, some of the lawyers, too to social media to proclaim that this was impeachable as an attempt to obstruct justice. In the New Yorker (no, I’m not going to link to it because the lawyer who wrote it should be ashamed of himself), an attorney “resistance” member or Richard Painter writing under a pseudonym made this argument:

  • Trump fired Comey.
  • He had the power and authority to fire Comey.
  • It’s obstruction of justice if the President did what he had power and authority to do if he was trying to impede the Russian collusion investigation. (Of course, the author ignores the salient point that Comey had proved himself dishonest, incompetent and untrustworthy, and it would have been a dereliction of duty not to can him)
  • Trump’s desire to fire Mueller proves that his motives in firing Comey were mens rea for obstruction, so
  • Mueller can indict Trump, and
  • Congress might be able to impeach him.

Brilliant. I have never seen, heard or read about so many prominent lawyers setting out to mislead the public and make them more ignorant than they already are. I’m sure the author is sincere, which is even more troubling. By the time the Trump Presidency is over, the public will have lost all respect for and trust of both political parties, politicians, judges, feminists, civil rights activists, lawyers, psychiatrists, journalists, artists, legal ethicists, and historians.  Every one of those professions will have earned it; indeed, they already have after just one year.

4. Or if you want Olympic glory at the cost of a child… From The Hill:

The U.S. Olympic Committee demanded late Thursday that all board members resign by Jan. 31, saying USA Gymnastics would lose its status as the nation’s governing organization for gymnastics if they did not. USA Gymnastics, on Friday, agreed to the demand. “USA Gymnastics will comply with the USOC requirements,” the group said in a statement…

Problem solved! Now let’s get back to cheering those delightful sprites as they tumble, balance and spin!

The U.S. Olympic Committee is fully complicit in the Larry Nassar serial child molestation and sexual assault scandal, of course, and so are the gymnast’s parents. From NPR:

Sari Weiner, whose 6-year-old daughter has taken classes at Silver Stars for about three years, says the Nassar story is awful and she’s long felt uneasy about the sport for other reasons. But the news won’t change her family’s routine.

“My opinions of gymnastics have not really changed. I’ve always thought that the competitive nature of the sport is extremely messed up,” Weiner says. “I think it is just unconscionable how long it went on and how nobody spoke up about it. But if my daughter is compulsively doing cartwheels all over the house, I’m going to put her in gymnastics for as long as she’s having fun.”

Other parents here say the sport helps their kids burn off energy and gain confidence.

Cara Altimus brings her 3-year-old daughter here once a week to have fun and get stronger. She says the Nassar story doesn’t really feel connected to her experience at Silver Stars, despite a disturbing incident last year, when a father planted a small spy camera in a bathroom.

The sport, like women’s swimming and skating, attracts predators, government bodies care more about the sports and profits than the athletes, but as long as the girls are having fun, their parents will continue to place them at risk. The unethical, incompetent judge who sentenced Nassar said, “It stops now.” No, if this attitude, denial and dodging of responsibility continue, it won’t stop at all.



24 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/27/2018: “If You Want It, Here’s How To Get It” Edition

  1. On #4, I’m not sure that’s fair. My autistic 3 year old is hyposensitive and has low muscle tone (possibly related) and hyperflexability, meaning that she doesn’t get adequate input from everyday experiences and overextends her joints to get a “normal” and comfortable amount of input. She has physical therapy once a week, but we’ve been planning to enroll her in gymnastics to give her appropriate and safe ways to use her body and to get her more social interaction with other kids in an activity she enjoys. Now, due to her age and disability (she also has serious language delays) she would be in a “mommy and me” style class, but if she advanced I’d certainly let her be in typical classes. We have no interest in competition at this time, obviously, and that would be a different kettle of fish, but in terms of classes at a local gym with a good reputation, I don’t see an alternative that’s any safer.

    I think recent events absolutely show the need for parents to be vigilant, involved, and keep in mind that they are responsible for their children and can’t trust “experts” to tell them what’s best for them, but that shouldn’t be at the expense of allowing kids to socialize and learn new skills they’re interested in.

    • The question is whether certain venues are unacceptably risky. Parents who pack their kids off to camps where nobody is there to protect them are a lot different than what you are talking about.

      • Thank you. I don’t have time to say half of what I want to, but there are so many great commenters here (including you!) that usually someone else has said it anyway (along with eloquently arguing the other side.)

        • Well thanks!

          My view on redundant comments (which they discourage me as well) is that even if the general idea of a comment has already been pushed by another, each commenter has differing angles or elucidates points missed by others that are relevant.

  2. Number 1 sounds like a guy trying to short-circuit natural selection to me. The kind of stupidity that leads a mindless sheep to eat a detergent pack really needs to not be in the gene pool.

  3. On point 3, better build bigger prisons when just thinking about something is considered a crime.

    With that said, logic would dictate that in order for justice to be obstructed one must prove that justice was denied or delayed. Creating perjury traps when one cannot find evidence of wrongdoing could also be considered obstructing justice by creating conditions that should not otherwise exist.

    If in fact no evidence can be presented to show a conspiracy to coordinate an effort with the Russians then how can one be charged with obstruction. Therefore, how could one obstruct a prosecution that cannot obtain a conviction on hard evidence. Obviously, if one can prove that the target acted to destroy evidence or compel perjury it would be obstruction. In this case, Trump cannot destroy an investigation because someone else will simply take his place. Obstruction should only be added to charges and not as stand alone charges except when you can prove that the obstructing act was a stand alone crime.

    Justice is an ideal to be worked toward not a federal department. Justice requires fairness to both sides.

    Using Painter logic, theoretically, demands for recusals could also be considered obstruction because it demands that one side that may give an appearance of conflict be removed from the process. How is that different than removing a lead investigator who too may have a conflict for other reasons?

    Moreover, conspiring to not investigate a target as diligently because said target may one day be your boss should constitute obstruction of justice as well as a breach of fiduciary duty.

    • I forgot, isn’t an executive order demanding ICE and INS from treating all deportation eligible persons equally obstruction of justice?

  4. I’m not sure what you’re suggesting in #4.

    While parents should do their due diligence and make sure a gym camp has some form of accreditation in terms of teaching, nurses or doctors present in case of injury, reasonably quick access to ERs, etc, and food safety, I think it’s impossible to ask the parents to perform background checks on the staff.

    So what are you suggesting then?

    Re: #1,

    > [quote]In 2012, in response to a child swallowing Tide Pods, Procter & Gamble said they would make this product more difficult to open by adding a double latch to the lid, and has also re-focused their advertising to make clear the product should be out of a child’s reach at all times. The packaging was also changed to an opaque orange rather than the original clear plastic gumball machine-type presentation to make them look less enticing; other manufacturers followed suit with equivalent packaging changes.[14] In 2013, Consumer Reports stated that there had been nearly 7,700 reported incidents in which children age 5 or younger had been exposed to laundry pacs,[1] and that year, one child from Florida died after ingesting a pac.[15] In 2014, a study published in Pediatrics found that from 2012 to 2013, more than 17,000 calls were made to poison control centers about children who had been exposed to the pacs.[16] Despite the industry’s move toward safer packaging, a 2017 study published in JAMA Ophthalmology found that between 2012 and 2015, the number of chemical eye burns associated with laundry detergent pods among 3-4 year old children skyrocketed from fewer than 20 to almost 500 per year; in 2015, these injuries were responsible for 26% of all chemical eye burns among this population.[17]

    So this is a product introduced in 2012 that almost from the beginning has caused injuries, and where Tide was warned by consumer advocates of these injuries to the young and to the elderly (with dementia).

    > [quote]
    It’s clear that laundry pods as they currently exist are too dangerous to be sold to the public. If P&G and other manufacturers can’t figure out a way to reduce the more than 10,000 injuries they cause each year, laundry packs need to be taken off the market.[/quote]

    If the numbers from Consumer Reports and Pediatrics and JAMA are accurate then ignoring that what brought this about were idiot teens, I think the researchers conclusions are on point and reasonable. My only question would be how pods injury numbers compare to standard detergents. If they are significantly worse, than as the researcher concludes: if P&G can’t fix it, they should yank it. (Which P&G has, presumably for PR reasons…).

    I’m sort of okay with lawn darts being taken off the market and air bags being mandated. I’m not sure why Tide should get a pass for Tide Pods.

  5. The urge to do stupid reckless things as a bored or preening teen will just move on to some other roulette activity. I can see a few restrictions regarding small children like less pretty colors, but a lot of this is the parent’s job. Kids should learn early (smacking fingers worked well in my day) not to put random sht in their mouths. It could be locked up, or better yet not purchased if there is any doubt.

    Amazingly people survived with guns, raw detergents, and axes in their homes when the lands were settled. Are these people really saying that their kids are that much stupider than kids of the 1800’s? Or are they demonstrating that their modern enlightened parenting skills are far worse in what should be simple survival areas? It’s hard being a parent, but it involves a lot of paying attention. Take the extra five minutes off the smart phone to measure out the soap the old way, it’s not only cheaper but your kid won’t have the pods.

    The teens doing it is more troubling, and shows they missed a major reason milestone. I suspect the who dare to do what others/youtube show should be a real talk by twelve. Russian roulette and playing chicken while driving were popular a while back, and are more obviously stupid. But somehow they never learned that things in bright and cheery colors CANNOT be dangerous. Those colors are kids colors and that means they are safe. /sarcasm

    I knew I was uneasy when toy weapons and tools started getting the neon treatment a couple decades ago, and I think this is why. A train that is bright blue with a smile would never run over you if you are on the track. A generation thinks neon colors means SAFE. Paint the B1 tutti fruity magenta and they will stop objecting, I guess. We need to stop thinking everything needs to be brightly colored for slick marketing. Colorful is not safe.

    • Maybe we need to toss them in the rainforest for a few days? If a wild animal is brightly colored (well, other than birds and their mating signalling), that’s usually because of aposematism: it doesn’t need to worry about being noticed, and instead is actively warning other animals that it is poisonous. Either that, or it’s pretending to be poisonous. A lot of hardware also has bright colors so you can see where not to put your hands.

      Personally, I think the kids just need to learn to read and respect warning labels.

      “A train that is bright blue with a smile would never run over you if you are on the track.” Of course not. It’s a really useful engine!

  6. 1. Ridiculous. I can understand doing dumb stuff with the rate or quantity of consumption of edible things, like trying to see how many crackers you can jam into your mouth or how fast you can drain a bottle of beer. The cinnamon challenge, dealing with an edible spice, which has put who knows how many dumb people in the ER, was bad enough. The Guinness Book of World Records for a while did record what it called “the ultimate in stupidity,” the eating of a bicycle, because the editors believed no one was likely to re-attempt it. This idiocy might give them pause. The answer, however, is not to pull an otherwise viable product off the market. If we do that we are headed for Wimp World, where pasty-faced people scurry between single story buildings and signs say “you really oughta not turn right here, (OK?)”

    2. Unfortunately this is part of the fallout from the last election. In Islam there is a mentality that once anything is held by Muslims, no matter how temporarily, it remains Muslim forever, and must be a target for reconquest. That’s why a lot of jihadists can’t let Israel go and sometimes make noise about trying to retake the Balkans, and every so often a Muslim delegation approaches the bishop in Cordoba about being allowed to offer Muslim prayers in the cathedral there (which was a church, then a mosque, then a church again) but if you so much as make the sign of the cross in the Hagia Sophia, you can be arrested. This same mentality is present up and down the left at this point: anything held by a minority becomes minority property, and any attempt to change that is unforgiveable. You mark my words, when the notorious RBG either retires or drops dead, if a Republican president dares nominate a man for the open spot, you will hear HOWLS from the left. On the other hand, when Clarence Thomas leaves the Court, no one will say word one if a Democratic president nominates a white guy for the spot, as long as he is properly liberal. Then again, if he’s Jewish (which seems to be all that the Dems nominate except Sotomayor) maybe he doesn’t count as white.

    3. We’ve been over this a million times. There are bloggers up and down the internet who embrace political violence. Antifa has displayed plenty of political violence. Someone attempted a massacre of one political party. A few here have even said they want things to explode in a civil war. Most aren’t that nuts, but a substantial chunk of the left want Trump gone, they want him gone now, and they are willing to use any and all means short of actually rising up to get him gone. People with that mentality don’t take an honest look at the facts, and they don’t reexamine them as new information comes to light except as far as that can move them toward their set goal. They can’t see the right as anything other than their set goal, and, even if Mueller gave a press conference at which he said he was satisfied there had been no wrongdoing, those people won’t accept it. Someone got to someone, someone hid his tracks too well, maybe Mueller was leaned on himself. Trump Derangement Syndrome is incurable.

    4. I lost my interest in women’s gymnastics after the story of the “Magnificent Seven” Atlanta team hit the wall in Sydney 2000. What really soured me on the whole sport was the fact that Dominique Moceanu, the cutesy, then 14yo youngest member of the Seven in Atlanta, had had more surgeries than most people have in their life and more family drama than anyone should ever face by Sydney. There is no defending a sport that destroys bodies and families while robbing kids of the chance to be kids.

  7. At first I was relating the argument for discontinuing detergent pods to the character of Wonko the Sane from the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. After seeing instructions printed on a toothpick container, he concluded that the world had gone mad, and put it in an asylum with himself as the warden (he turned his house inside out). After all, if you can discontinue laundry detergent because people old enough to know better are using it for a dangerous unintended purpose and parents can’t keep their cleaning agents in a safe place, then you can use that argument against literally any physical product, because someone can deliberately hurt themselves with it. Making it taste bad just adds to the challenge of self-harm.

    However, after reading the article, I got an idea from the part where the author says that the companies have been dragging their feet as far as making their products less tasty-looking is concerned.

    What if this is part of the sinister plot by Republicans to prevent major Democratic voter bases from voting? You’ve got voter IDs, which prevent black people from voting, you’ve got immigration law enforcement, which prevents illegal immigrants from becoming citizens and voting, you’ve got anti-abortion advocacy, with the goal that women have to stay home and raise children instead of voting, and now here comes Big Laundry killing off the young people who are addicted to social media and are boldness-responsive (meaning in this case that they think rules, instructions, and warnings are for chumps). You heard it here first.

    I, for my part, shall organize a boycott in solidarity. The laundry I did today will be the last I ever do until they start making edible laundry detergent.

  8. Of course Trump couldn’t be impeached for wanting to fire Mueller, and lefties who argue that is impeachable are nuts.

    The relevant parts of this story are that a) it further demonstrates that the president is a dumb, authoritarian liar who routinely has to be talked down from insanely self-sabotaging actions by people smarter than him and b) he and everyone around him lied about this for months.

  9. Every kid has drunk bubble mix and thrown up, so there is no excuse for not knowing that soap will make you sick.

    However, it occurs to me that manufacturers do bear some responsibility for this problem by abusing danger labels on other products. For instance, your favorite, Listerine is labeled as “toxic”, when it is no more so than any particular liquor product.

    Even I question how much of the dires warnings by doctors on TV about consuming concentrated detergent is hype (I also know not to, regardless). When every coffee cup warns that the beverage may be “hot”, the meaning of these warnings is diluted.

    When middle school students are strip-searched for the crime of possessing ibuprofen on campus, can teens really be expected to understand the relative danger of chemicals. (Yes, yes they should, but if we infantalize them they won’t).

    The bottom line is that infantalizing the public contributed to the Tide Pods Challenge becoming a thing. That makes all the more unethical the call for more infantalizing measures to protect the public from themselves.

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