Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2/23/18: Stupid And Incompetent Edition

Good Morning…

(That’s Phathon, by the way, the son of Helios, the Greek sun god, falling to his death after trying to drive his father’s sun-chariots across the sky. I’m sure you knew that...)

1 “Children or Guns?” We can’t be too critical of 16 and 17-year olds who employ poor reasoning and bumper-sticker rhetoric to demand “something” [New York Times two-page paid ad—sure,  the kids are responsible for it; you believe that don’t you?—reads: “We’re children. You guys are the adults….get something done.”—Parkland school shooting survivor] When the adults are making similar “arguments.” “Children or Guns?”  was the title of the  New York Times editorial two days ago. Yup, that’s the choice: either we can have children, or we can have guns! The Facebook declarations from users too old to go trick or treating are similarly hysterical. This messaging maleducates our young, especially the already harmed shooting survivors. The shooting made them justifiably angry and paranoid, now the cynical adults exploiting them are making them stupid. More notes from the re-invigorated Sandy Hook Ethics Train Wreck:

  • A teaching moment: Ethics Alarms has a flurry of high school students weighing-in here, some with more success than others. This is a good teaching blog for a lot of skills and disciplines, like rhetoric, logic, political debate and, of course, ethics.  At least one college course on ethics uses EA as a permanent resource (or did).

I’d love to see more students comment here, as long as they don’t expect to be coddled. This is a tough forum, and was designed to be. One piece of advice: Read the comment policies and the list of terms and concepts.

The armed officer stationed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., resigned Thursday after an internal review found he did not enter the school during last week’s deadly shooting. Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel announced Deputy Scot Peterson chose to resign after Israel suspended him without pay. “Scot Peterson was absolutely on campus through this entire event. He was armed. He was in uniform,” Israel said at a press conference…

“We’re not going to disclose the video at this time, and we may never disclose the video, depending on the prosecution and the criminal case,” Israel said. “But what I saw was a deputy arrive at the west side of building 12, take up a position — and he never went in.”

When asked by a reporter what Peterson should have done, Israel said the deputy should have “went in, addressed the killer, killed the killer.” Israel said the video made him “sick to [his] stomach” and left him feeling “devastated.” “There are no words,” he said.

Sure there are: “Moral luck” are two of them. So is “chaos.” Children and journalists are screaming with fury at the NRA, whose sole job is to set up the most absolute defense possible to protect the Second Amendment as the ACLU is pledged to do with the First, for what we now know was a catastrophic breakdown in multiple human government systems.

We know that the school, the police and the FBI were warned that Nicholas Cruz could be a school shooter multiple times. We know he posted a YouTube video with  the comment: “I’m going to be a professional school shooter.” Law enforcement reportedly flagged the comment last September so YouTube would remove it. Problem solved! Now we know that the professional with a gun—the fail-safe— whose job it was to protect the students from exactly this kind of threat was derelict when the system needed him to do his job rapidly and well.

Unfortunately, this isn’t an anomaly, and it would be helpful if the students learned that. The government is made up of fallible humans, and often fails, even when it isn’t corrupt and abusing power. Systems, even the best ones, break down and allow metaphorical dinosaurs to run amuck. You’re never going to be “safe,” and if you think so, someone has lied to you, or you are deluded. For many years beginning in high school, I kept a newspaper clipping about a man, minding his own business and walking home from work ,who was killed by “a flying mailbox”–a truck had slammed into one and it was hurled hundreds of feet in the air, eventually landing on this poor guy, who not only didn’t know what hit him, he wouldn’t have believed it if he had been told.

This has always been the brilliance of the Founders’ vision of a nation and a culture where citizens not only take individual responsibility for their lives, but are guaranteed that right. The bad luck and confluence of unpredictable and uncontrollable circumstances (chaos) tell us that a society where citizens have freedom and guns  available will have periodic tragedies. The fact that multiple government employees and systems failed in Parkland also tells some citizens that the more they are able to protect themselves, the safer they will be.

They are not wrong.

  • The Second Amendment version of the Streisand Effect. Gun sales, which spiked to record levels during the Obama administration because of its irresponsible anti-gun rhetoric, is booming again, as citizens decide they better arm themselves, especially with semi-automatic weapons, before the Left’s “sensible” gun grab. Thus the end result of all the screaming and finger-pointing  will be more guns than ever.

Good job!

  • New vistas in virtue signalling…My Facebook friends, who are drooling all over themselves right now, were cheering the viral video of the guy burning his own AR-15 so it “would never be used” in a mass shooting. This is right up there with Rhett Butler shooting Bonnie Blue’s pony because she was killed trying to ride it, but even dumber. Yes, that rifle is going to escape and kill kids.

The words this time are “showboating” and “virtue-signalling.” That gun was never going to used in a shooting. It’s fungible, so its destruction does nothing and means nothing. The individuals who would misuse their weapons would never do what he’s doing. This is like a non-drinker pouring a bottle of whiskey down the drain before he gets in a car, to protest drunk-driving. It’s like the owner of a loving American Pit Bull Terrier killing his dog because he’s been convinced the breed is dangerous. It’s like him castrating himself so he won’t rape anyone, like Harvey Weinstein.

It’s not an argument, it’s not an example, it’s not intellectually honest. Naturally, everyone is cheering.

This is the incompetent level of the current gun debate.

  • And so is this: At President Trump’s White House meeting with survivors of school shootings and their family members, a father asked, “How many more children have to get shot?”, and this was deemed worthy of a front page headline. That’s an unethical question, a “When did you stop beating your wife?” question, in which answering it accepts a false premise. “No more!” would be a commitment to installing a police state. “647!” would also be unacceptable, presumably.  The President, neither a deep thinker nor a Constitutional expert, gamely foundered with random suggestions, one of which, the arming of teachers, was furiously attacked and ridiculed by the anti-gun zealots, who have yet to suggest a measure that would have stopped the latest shooting and wouldn’t involve gutting the Bill of Rights.

2. We are poor little lambs who are dumb as hell...I suppose it is gratifying to know that Yale’s institutions are as silly and self-destructive as Harvard’s. I was expecting this one: it is Hasty Pudding Show Redux. Harvard was stupid first, though!

Yale’s Whiffenpoofs, the country’s oldest collegiate a cappella singing group, capitulated to #MeToo anti-male  attacks on campus and this week named Sofia Campoamor, a junior, as the first female member of the all-male  singing group since its founding in 1909. Well, that’s the end of that. Apparently certain kinds of sounds are now politically intolerable in Progressive Cloud Cuckoo Land. All male singing groups, all female singing groups, and mixed gender singing groups have different, distinctive and aesthetically pleasing sounds. Unless Sophia is a bass, or plans on taking hormones, the addition of a female voice to an all-male harmony ensemble changes its sound. Have you ever heard a mixed gender barbershop quartet? It doesn’t sound like a barbershop quartet, just as adding a male to the Supremes would mean the group wouldn’t sound like the Supremes.

The Progressive drive for agenda-driven conformity is a symptom of its totalitarian proclivities. There is nothing wrong or unethical about all-male musical ensembles, and the sound they create is worth preserving. I wouldn’t cross the street to hear the ‘Poofs, but the group has allowed itself to be sacrificed to political correctness.

3. Finally, this entry in the “When ethics alarms don’t ring” files. A dining hall at New York University advertised a special meal in honor of Black History Month:  barbecue ribs, corn bread, collard greens, Kool-Aid and watermelon-flavored water. After black students complained, two low-level black employees were fired for choosing  a menu that Andrew Hamilton, the president of New York University, called “inexcusably insensitive.” 

Foul. The black employees were given an impossible assignment, a trap, really: “OK, decide what we’re going to serve for the Black History meal.” Their supervisors gave inadequate guidance, and no oversight. What would you serve? My answer: nothing different from any other meal, except maybe better than usual. But without guidance, I can see how this gaffe was made. And so self-righteous, privileged black students got two people fired as retribution.  Victory.

27 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2/23/18: Stupid And Incompetent Edition

  1. What I find interesting about some of the High School students participating in this mess is that they think they are adult enough and intelligent enough that they should be listened to as equals in the process but yet when you directly confront them about their ignorant claims you always seem to hear something like “I’m a High School student stop picking on me” somewhere in the reply and then they turn around and continue to profess that they should be listened to and spout the same fallacies they were spouting before you confronted their ignorance. In my book using “I’m a High School student” to excuse their ignorance when they are trying to profess themselves as some kind of equal in the process is nothing but an ignorant rationalization, they’ve been indoctrinated.

    • Wasn’t it just a couple weeks ago certain members of congress were proposing legislation that P&G redesign Tide pods to discourage persons of the same age from ingesting harmful chemicals and poisoning themselves?

      • Given the British slang meaning of “poof” and it’s plural, “pooves,” will the boys at Yale have to change the name of their embarrassingly elite, antiquated and silly singing group now that it’s no longer all male? Too bad they didn’t have an a capella group singing on the stair case at the Delta house during the toga party. Bluto could have smashed their head into the wall. Less expensive to hire just a single guitarist/crooner I guess.Frankly, they’d have been better off disbanding that group decades ago. Are there even any alumni left today who get all teary eyed hearing the Wiffenpoofs at alumni events and automatically begin writing substantial checks on their trust fund accounts? I sure hope not.

          • Irrelevant to what? I’m sure they travel around to alumni gatherings throughout the year.And bring in lots of dough. So I’m sure they’re untouchable, even though they’re an absurd anachronism to any normal person’s sensibilities. They’re not the patriarchy personified?

  2. 1. I have tried discussing this with some online folks. It’s a complete waste of time. They want a gun ban and they want it now. I did end one discussion by asking “didn’t we have this discussion after Sandy Hook?” The other side couldn’t dispute that.

    2. She’s an alto and would probably sing the higher tenor stuff, which, as a tenor, I have to say is kind of cheating. Actually those angriest about this are Wim’N’Rhythm, Yale’s premier all-female ensemble, who will now lose talent to the more prestigious and better known Whiffenpoofs, just as now most women are taught to pursue “male” jobs like firefighter, surgeon, and pilot because those jobs are more prestigious.

    3. I’d call that an Ethics Land Mine. No matter what happened, someone was going to get hurt or offended. It’s by nature unethical to set someone or something up to fail, then punish someone when it does fail.

    • Actually those angriest about this are Wim’N’Rhythm, Yale’s premier all-female ensemble, who will now lose talent to the more prestigious and better known Whiffenpoofs…

      Better yet: now they have to let males into the all female group, nes pas?

      Sauce for the goose

  3. 3. I am a bit flummoxed with this one. I checked with “Mom in the City” a blog by Kimberly Coleman a black mom in New York City. Among her favorite recipes to celebrate Black History Month were: BBQ pork ribs and Southern collard greens with smoked turkey wings. She also included fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, and sweet potato pie. Unfortunately she didn’t mention choice of beverage but in my experience that would have to be iced tea. Would it offend the French if we serve frog legs, cheese, and wine on Bastille Day? I can remember when I was in college and some of the black students protested because the cafeteria didn’t serve “Soul Food”.

  4. Apologies to early readers of this post. I just repaired about 20 little typos, missing letters, double words, stupid stuff. The earlier I post the warm-up, the more blotto I am. I have a cup of joe, then check again.

  5. It’s pretty clear the children are a tool in the hands of people who have been desperate to disarm the populace for quite some time. (See SNL first episode from 1975.)

    What happens if legislators do not roll over and do as is being demanded? The anti-gun tactics appear to be increasingly aggressive and fascistic. Their tactics are to discredit, demonize, marginalize, then the final step, remove the opposition. We haven’t reached the removal step. Let’s hope we don’t ever.

    If our republic continues to be weakened by these tactics, we will, at some point look like low hanging fruit to foreign foes.

    • I’ve seen more than a few posts talking about how this is going to be the way to remove every member of the GOP from power permanently. Apparently no one has ever thought through the concept of a one party state. Then again, I have looked at the pages of some of these people, and it’s all Trump hate and Republican hate, sometimes SHRILL Trump hate and Republican hate.

  6. 3. “I give everyone full permission to eat some fried chicken after they vote — only after. … A good victory for Democrats on Tuesday should be rewarded with some fried chicken.” -Michelle Obama

      • LUVIN me my Collard greens!

        My cherished gardener/pal Abdullah brought collard green seedlings instead of the requested Cauliflower and Brussels Sprouts last spring.

        Doesn’t matter, we ultimately got the other ones as well.

        The Cauliflower & Brussels Sprouts under-performed; the greens over-performed; nothing went to waste, neither.

  7. Yup, that’s the choice: either we can have children, or we can have guns!

    Of course, we can easily predict the results of the laws that they propose.

    All this to say, with the existence of our oppressively ruthless oligarchical system I get highly skeptical of when privileged folk begin to legislate and (inadvertently?) declare this “war on ‘guns.’” Is it not fair to think that this will seemingly only take us one step closer to legalizing things such as “New York City’s morally indefensible racial dragnet program called stop-and-frisk,” or at the very least give more “reason” to the militarization of police perpetuating a culture of brutality?
    Not many people know this but the “the KKK began as a gun-control organization…” As The Wall Street Journal acknowledged, “It was a constant pressure among white racists to keep guns out of the hands of African-Americans, because they would rise up and revolt.” While in 2003 the book “The Challenge of Crime” acknowledged that felons or “second-class citizens,” own the majority of stolen or illegally owned guns many who I suppose have been imprisoned for drug offenses.

    The reactive political pushback towards the idea of decriminalizing marijuana that will in consequence lower the rates of incarceration, just further exposes the mechanics of systemic structural violence (e.g. capitalizing on systemically oppressive racism).

    I wonder: Is this “war on guns,” really there to stop the violence or is it just another reason to incarcerate the innocent? Because if it were truly to stop the violence should we be going after the colonizer or the colonized?

    If black youth, that are three times less likely to engage in the illegal sales of drugs than white youth, are being imprisoned at unspeakably higher rates, then why would I believe whites, that are twice as likely to purchase guns, will be the one’s in which these laws are being targeted at? As progressives let’s not get caught in doing the same exact thing with guns, in which we accuse the conservatives of doing with drugs.
    Those that will be arrested and imprisoned will be those communities that have already been riddled and beaten down by Reagan’s supposed war on drugs.


    So the real question is: Children or Blacks?

  8. 3) I had no problem with this one: Start them with pain de campagne (country bread) with tomme cheese as an appetizer. I would also offer a gurbure soup which harkens to the Southern regions but should not insult except the hyper-sensitive. Then a main dish of andouillette, a course sausage usually made with pork. I would also include on the table rillettes, rather similar to pate, and this can also be spread onto the pain de champagne. There would be vegetable accompaniment. Certainly a salad I’d put out, something light, and I would offer wine of course. Would it be taken ill to put a malt liquor on the table?

  9. 3- Mercifully, I haven’t been accused of “Cultural Appropriation” for my sinfully delicious Sweet Spud Spears…yet.

    That I shared the recipe with my SIL from the SAYouth (H/T Other Bill) AND my best gal pal, who happens to be Black and responsible (since the passing of one of my Best Friends, her Dear Mother, Miss Addie) for every Sweet Spud Pie our family has had in recent history may have bought me some time.

  10. RE: The Moral Luck of former Deputy Scot Peterson.

    I saw this posted to another site:

    “I have a great deal of sympathy for the poor school guard with one little gun who didn’t go in after the AR kid inside. He wouldn’t have done any good as the situation inside was fluid and undefined, he’d have been killed immediately if the gun kid saw him, there was no backup or strategy in place, he wouldn’t have saved any lives but instead would likely have been added to the death count.”

    Anyone think Peterson, an armed, uniformed Deputy (not ”a poor school guard with one little gun”) trained and paid to “Serve and Protect,” did the right thing?

    I don’t.

    • So where are the diminishing, dismissive phrases like “one little gun” when a mass shooter uses a Glock identical to the one that Peterson was likely armed with? In that context it’s a “high-capacity weapon of war” or some other suitably frightening label. I don’t recall anyone saying that shitbag Dylan Roof was armed with “just one little gun” when he committed those heinous murders in Charleston.

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