Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2/25/18: Your School Shooting Ethics Train Wreck Update [UPDATED]

Good Morning!

1  Addendum to the “Weapons of War” post: I almost included this in the post itself, but it was long enough. During the debates here over the Confederate statue-toppling orgies and the Charlottesville riot, we often heard the defense that Robert E. Lee, et al., were unworthy of statues, monuments and memorials because they were traitors. I always viewed this as a rationalization for the real reason the Confederates are being airbrushed out of our public history, which is that their political and social beliefs don’t measure up to 21st Century ethics. The “traitor” argument is a neat way to distinguish Robert E. Lee from slave-owners like George Washington.  However, as the post explains, the United States was founded on the principle that it is not treason for citizens to seek to create a new government when they concluded that the current one has abused its power and cannot be reformed. That is certainly what the Confederacy believed. Under the Founding documents, they had every right to leave the Union, and would have done so peacefully had Lincoln allowed it. Robert E. Lee was wrong, and he was a racist, but he was no traitor. By Jefferson’s formula that was ratified unanimously by the Continental Congress, he was a patriot.

2. Everybody’s flailing. President Trump floated the much-mocked “arm teachers” suggestion, and then used the cultural DeLorean to retrieve the “popular culture is too violent” explanation. The gun violence in the U.S. is very much driven by our culture, and pop culture both reflects and affects it. Hollywood made some efforts to tone down the violence last year; it also had the worst year at the box office in a quarter of a century, so we’ll see how long that lasts. The President just doesn’t understand the Constitution very well: the government can’t force video games, music, TV shows and movies to be less violent, but it can launch efforts to build a public consensus to dial back the fictional killing.

You know, like Tipper Gore’s effort to get the sex, obscenity and violence out of rap music. That sure worked well. The Obama approach would be to send out a menacing letter saying something like, “We recommend that you tone it down, but of course we can’t make you, but you know there are a lot of ways we could make your life miserable if you displease us, not that we would ever try to muscle you or anything since it you have the right of free speech. Just a word to the wise between friends. Nice little business you have there; it would be a shame if anything were to happen to it…”

The President’s critics sneered that he is “flailing” on the issue. I don’t see that he is flailing any more than anyone else. To the zealots, “flailing” means “not advocating the repeal of the Second Amendment.”

3. At least Vox is honest. In this article, left-wing Vox argues that the solution to gun violence “isn’t a big mystery,” but then only uses innuendo to explain what the solution is. Guess! here’s the biggest clue (emphasis mine):

The research also suggests that gun control can work. A 2016 review of 130 studies in 10 countries, published in Epidemiologic Reviews, found that new legal restrictions on owning and purchasing guns tended to be followed by a drop in gun violence — a strong indicator that restricting access to firearms can save lives.

Consider Australia’s example.

Got it.

4. Oopsie. I almost feel sorry for the anti-gun zealots this time. They thought they finally had the perfect tragedy to bet all their chips on to gut the Second Amendment and demonize the NRA, and as the fact have emerged, the Parkland shooting only proves that you can have all the laws and protections imaginable, you can stomp on rights and make safety the first priority, but if human beings–and governments— don’t do their jobs, you have sacrificed principles for nothing. The school had advance notice that Nicholas Cruz was dangerous. The police and the FBI were alerted repeatedly—Broward County police received 18 calls about him!— and were negligent and incompetent. [ See Update below..] Then the armed officer whose job it was to intercept a threat like Cruz allowed him to shoot away, and other responding officers also did nothing.  Telling the NRA and Republicans that they have “blood on their hands” in a scenario like this is transparently dishonest, and a virtual cover-up.

Make that an actual cover-up, and a remarkably stupid one. This morning, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel admitted on Jake Tapper’s State of the Union that he knew his deputy didn’t enter school at time of CNN “town hall” forum, and still berated the NRA while boasting about his officers’ success at keeping the public safe. Tapper was aghast:

Tapper: When did you find out that Deputy Peterson had not gone into the building? How soon after the shooting did you know that?

Israel: Not for days.

Tapper: How many days?

Israel: I’m not sure.

Tapper: Because you spent much of the Wednesday night town hall on CNN to meet with the entire Stoneman Douglas communities, students and teachers and parents, attacking the NRA, saying the police need more powers, more money to prevent future tragedies, you didn’t disclose any of this, to the crowd then, the Stoneman Douglas high school community, did you know it then, did you know it Wednesday night?

Israel: It was spoken about earlier during that day….

Nice.

The students, meanwhile, have been encouraged to cry “Never Again” in response to a tragedy that shows vividly why laws and systems will never be able to guarantee safety from lone killers, at school or anywhere else.

Glenn Reynold quoted a Facebook friend’s post:

Let’s get this straight: the FBI failed to follow its own procedure when warned of the Florida school killer, which might have prevented the massacre; and now we learn that the armed sheriff’s deputy assigned to the school failed to execute his duty, which also might have prevented the massacre.

It should be no wonder Americans don’t trust their institutions — nor that they want the ability to protect themselves when those institutions show themselves incompetent to do the job. Instead of new laws and procedures administered by these same inept bureaucracies, either reform those bureaucracies and their personnel to enforce the existing laws, or allow American citizens to do for themselves what the institutions do not.

The present political moment for gun control will shortly fade without having achieved its major objectives, as all its predecessors have. The reason it will fail is not the NRA nor its money: it’s this.

And this was the tragedy that the gun-banners chose to make their stand on.  Here’s one of my Facebook friends, a smart, mild-mannered, wonderful guy in all respects, and yet he posts this:

“The NRA doesn’t give a flying fuck about the Constitution. 90% of its members would be hard pressed to name even three other amendments in the Bill of Rights. All they give a shit about is the profits of gun manufacturers and sellers, no matter how many dead children litter our nation’s schoolyards. Profits are the only thing the NRA wishes to “preserve,” and you’re an idiot if you’ve been duped into believing otherwise.”

5. As follows the night the day…Once again, we are seeing a rise in “no-tolerance” policies in school regarding guns, and anything that seems like a gun. This is the Barn Door Fallacy.  Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School was shot up after school administrators allowed every possible warning sign to slide by, but now that 17 human beings are dead, the barn door is being locked, bolted, sealed with concrete…

  • In this episode, an 18-year-old  student accidentally brought a loaded gun that was registered and that he owned legally to school. He immediately told a an officer at the school, who had him arrested and charged with a felony. He is going to be expelled.

Obviously the right thing for the student to do would have been 1) not to become an evil, dangerous gun owner and 2) to keep the gun hidden and not alert the officer.

  • This, which immediately takes its place along side the finger gun, the pizza gun, and the pop-tart gun…the square root symbol gun.

This one does have the consolation of creating a good gag line: “weapon of math destruction.” It also illustrates that our children will not be safe in school as longs as they can be abused by morons.

UPDATE: Regarding #4, here is a transcript of a 911 call regarding Cruz in January:

 

28 Comments

Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Character, Citizenship, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Rights, U.S. Society

28 responses to “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2/25/18: Your School Shooting Ethics Train Wreck Update [UPDATED]

  1. 5. As follows the night the day…Once again, we are seeing a rise in “no-tolerance” policies in school regarding guns, and anything that seems like a gun. This is the Barn Door Fallacy. Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School was shot up after school administrators allowed every possible warning sign to slide by, but now that 17 human beings are dead, the barn door is being locked, bolted, sealed with concrete…

    In this episode, an 18-year-old student accidentally brought a loaded gun that was registered and that he owned legally to school. He immediately told a an officer at the school, who had him arrested and charged with a felony. He is going to be expelled.
    Obviously the right thing for the student to do would have been 1) not to become an evil, dangerous gun owner and 2) to keep the gun hidden and not alert the officer.

    This, which immediately takes its place along side the finger gun, the pizza gun, and the pop-tart gun…the square root symbol gun.

    This one does have the consolation of creating a good gag line: “weapon of math destruction.” It also illustrates that our children will not be safe in school as longs as they can be abused by morons.

    This is what “common sense” gun control amounts to.

  2. VPJ

    “This one does have the consolation of creating a good gag line: ‘weapon of math destruction.’”

    Only the evil al-gibra terrorists would stoop so low.

  3. Aleksei

    We cannot have our children learning about peace and love, when they are bombarded with these right-wing weapon of war hate symbols, such as this racist sqaure root symbol! Ban math class! Won’t someone think of the children! We can’t have a Trumpjugend!

    – Authentic frontier common sense gun control gibberish.

  4. Jack Houghton

    This is kind of peripherally related to the topic…

    Here in Virginia, there is an active political movement to stop the “pipeline from school to prison” and it goes like this: School officials and their policies are unfairly entrapping, certain kinds of children in an unfair net that results in these children winding up in jail instead of in college and subsequently well paying jobs and being good citizens. So let us relax those unfair policies to promote more good citizens.

    These unfair policies are, it would seem, criminal activity, including drug crimes and acts of violence in school environments. But, because the policies produce “over representation” of certain demographics being suspended, expelled and sometimes jailed, it is argued that the policies are unfair and inappropriate.

    This political movement seems to be suggesting that children who are suspended, expelled and sometimes jailed should be in approximate proportion with their respective demographic groups… as if everybody is always behaviorally identical.

    Seems to me, and I may be wrong, but isn’t this opening the door to to the idea of reverse “zero tolerance” where school officials have to implement disciplinary policies according to some kind of quota system that ensures that every demographic is equally punished and held accountable even if it means some innocent children are punished while other not so innocent children are given a pass to keep the statistics within the norm?

    A second question: If this results criminal offending school children remaining in the school environment, isn’t this potentially putting schools in jeopardy?

    PS: “and would have done so peacefully had Lincoln allowed it.” That little matter of the siege of Fort Sumter kind of puts into question the peaceful aspect of your characterization. If this attack on a U.S. military installation had not occurred, Lincoln might have had a somewhat awkward dilemma on his hands: How to go to war with peaceful secessionists.

    • On the PS: no doubt, firing on Fort Sumter was mistake. But even afterwards, nothing stopped Lincoln from saying, “Fine, go in peace, Brothers.” The fort was a Federal installation in Confederate territory. Either it had to be turned over, or there was going to be a battle.

    • Editorial from ‘The Pittsburg Gazette’, April 18th 1861:

      How It Was Done:

      “In all the history of the world there is no account of so singular a contest as that in which the American government is now engaged. Five months ago treason and revolt burst forth like the sudden eruption of a volcano. A weak Executive, whose leading advisers were traitors, bent before the storm, and suffered the outbreak to progress until not only ourselves but the whole civilized world trembled for the safety of the government. Indeed it would have been overthrown had not other and better men been placed in authority.

      For four weeks after the 4th of March the administration of Mr. Lincoln seemed to be as inert, and weak, and timid as that of his predecessor; yet we now see that it was working with extraordinary vigor, but so quietly that neither friends nor foes could tell what it was doing, or whether it was doing anything. Deep murmurs of discontent began to be expressed by the former, and exultant shouts of triumph arose from the ranks of the traitors.

      The administration suffered the story to go out that it was desirous of evacuating Sumter, and even went so far as to authorize Major Anderson to negotiate with Gen. Beauregard in respect to terms. He did so. He proposed to withdraw all his force except a corporal and two men, who should be left as the nominal representatives of the government, and have the care of its property, and also required a pledge that this small guard should not be molested.

      Beauregard, under the orders, doubtless, of Jefferson Davis, refused to agree to the proposed terms, but demanded a full surrender of the fort. This the rebels regarded as a great triumph, little dreaming that it was only the first move in a series, which for consummate tact and strategy is perhaps unparalleled.

      The next move was to let it be known that the administration desired to send a single unarmed vessel with provisions to the now starving garrison; but that it had no intention to reinforce it. This too was refused.
      Then the curtain was rolled up, and all men were permitted to see the vigorous preparations for war, both by sea and land, going on at New York. Ship after ship sailed, with sealed orders, laden with troops, munitions and stores. All parties, both North and South, came to the conclusion that all this was intended for Charleston, and that Sumter was to be reinforced and saved at any cost. This brought the traitor government to the point, and orders were given to Gen. Beauregard to commence actual hostilities by opening his batteries upon Sumter.

      We were all mistaken. The administration had no intention of making a fight at Sumter. Some of the ships of war cast anchor—if we may believe the telegrams—in the lower part of Charleston harbor, but showed no inclination to take any part in the battle. On Anderson’s side the fight was only a sham; for with admirable skill he managed to fire away for some twenty four hours without killing a man. Boats plied unharmed between Charleston and Morris Island, directly across Anderson’s line of fire. In all this Major Anderson only obeyed orders, and his conduct from first to last has the President’s cordial approbation. Many persons were inclined to censure him for giving up so easily; but now they understand it. When a dispatch told us that the balls of Sumter were knocking chimney-tops off like a hurricane, and that not a man had been injured, we were strongly tempted to suspect his fidelity; yet, when properly understood, nothing could be more mortifying to the pride of the Southern “chivalry” than such a fact as this. Why, Anderson made even his guns laugh at them.

      Sumter is of itself of no strategical value in this contest to either party; but it has been turned, by this skilful manoeuvre, to a most admirable account. By holding on to it, some thousands of the rebel troops were kept at Charleston harbor, which probably saved the Capital of the nation from assault on the fourth of March. For this we are indebted, not to Mr. Buchanan, but to Major Anderson, who, on his own responsibility, took possession of it, and thus foiled the traitors for that time. Mr. Lincoln, with admirable sagacity, kept it for five weeks in a weak and helpless condition, and suffered the impression to go abroad that he was unable, or afraid, to retain or strengthen it. He next let the impression get abroad that he was about to do something for it; and then, in order to gain the inside track, Jefferson Davis ordered his general to besiege it. Thus he ran blindly into the trap, and drew upon himself and his bogus government the awful responsibility of inaugurating active war against the government. Lincoln used Sumter to draw their fire—to put them thoroughly in the wrong—to compel them to act out their true character—to put them in a position where all men could see them as they were, and thus withdraw from them the sympathy of every honest man. [My italics]

      He uttered no threats; he did nothing to provoke them; he asked nothing humiliating; he only expressed a wish to be permitted peaceably to supply a starving garrison. But he made a movement in New York, which, by a mistaken inference, was construed into a threat. With characteristic barbarity they resisted the peaceful and merciful mission of the unarmed provision-ship, and hastened to open a murderous cannonade upon the little garrison and inaugurate a war. Thus to treason, barbarity and cowardice, they added the commission of an egregious blunder.

      The seige of Fort Sumter—although in itself, perhaps, the broadest farce in the annals of warfare, and one that will elicit shouts of laughter throughout the world—has already revolutionized this great nation; for on the part of the traitors it was war as fierce and determined as ever was waged; and now, with singular unanimity, the whole people of the free States regard them as national enemies. Their first blow, although claimed as a victory, is really one of the most disastrous defeats that ever a set of poor wretches sustained. To be treated by Anderson, under the orders of Lincoln, as a set of maniacs or spoiled children, who were not to be hurt, was awful. Lincoln was careful of their blood, but terribly severe upon their pride, which, like Achilles’ heel, or a nigger’s shin, is their most vulnerable part.

      [https://www.historians.org/teaching-and-learning/teaching-resources-for-historians/sixteen-months-to-sumter/newspaper-index/pittsburgh-daily-gazette/how-it-was-done]

    • Aleksei

      I would like to weigh in on the “school to prison pipeline” premise. I believe it’s flawed on the basis, that they assume the individual kids, minority kids, that get punished in their schools are being punished for the sole fact of being a minority. I would bet you $20, that if we were to do a study to go over every disciplinary action report filed for a a given school for a given year, in each individual case, we would probably agree that the punishment was levied for deserved improper action. Same thing in the adult world, black people aren’t being arrested for being black, there are actual crimes that they are being charged for. What is happening here in your school is they have collective unpunishment, because if you belong to a certain group, you can do no wrong, which I would argue will do no one any good in the future. These kids will go on with their lives into the adult world, thinking that the same rules apply, and they will get a rude awakening when they find out crime is crime. it is exactly the same argument, that America is racist, because more blacks go to jail. I would also add, America is racist, because Asians on average earn more than other ethnic groups.
      So you can say it’s a chicken and the egg problem. Are minorities unduly punished, leading them to a life of crime, or are they behaving badly and the disproportionate amount of punishments is a correlation, and not a causation.
      Thus I believe we might start hearing about resegragation, because PoC need a safe environment to learn, were they don’t have to be anxious because of white people, and be punished unduly, etc, etc.

  5. Glenn Logan

    The students, meanwhile, have been encouraged to cry “Never Again” in response to a tragedy that shows vividly why laws and systems will never be able to guarantee safety from lone killers, at school or anywhere else.

    So does this mean we can expect lawsuits against the Broward County Sheriff’s office? After all, their employee demonstrated manifest incompetence at minimum, but most likely he just exposed his abject cowardice.

    If he had intervened, there is no question some lives could’ve been saved. Sounds like a cause of action to me. But the deputy/resource officer didn’t even try to distract the guy, let alone stop him.

    But what do you want to bet that any lawsuits will be directed at gun manufacturers or the NRA?

    I know where my money will be.

    • Aleksei

      Glenn Logan, I would guess, that if there will be a civil suit against the Sheriff’s office, that they didn’t uphold their duty to protect, it might not pass muster. Since the police have no constitutional duty to protect any one individual, they can’t be liable when you get victimized and they didn’t show up in time. They are only liable for you, if you are in their custody, i.e. i handcuffs getting transported, and something goes wrong, then you’ve got a case. It makes sense, since you would sue the police every time you get mugged in an alley, and the only remedy would be a police state.
      See this example from NYC in 2013.
      Perhaps they could argue, that the people killed in this tragedy were all being individuals, and thus their families will not be able to get any damages from the state. It sounds callous, but it makes sense. I think if this were attempted, this would be a great argument for the the 2nd amendment camp (Disclosure: I am in the 2nd amendment camp), because it would show people that at the end of the day, nobody can really guarantee your safety, except yourself. Thus naively thinking if only the police would just protect us, everything is going to be. As has been shown, the Texas church shooting and the Parkland shooting, the local PD’s and/or the federales messed up. Blaming the NRA is just silly. Sorry pal, unless you can afford your own bodyguards, ain’t no one protecting your butt.
      For further reading on this, just do a search of “police no duty to protect”. Aslo, nn NYT article on a particular case.

      • In summary:

        We don’t have to protect you, and we won’t let you protect yourself.

      • Glenn Logan

        Glenn Logan, I would guess, that if there will be a civil suit against the Sheriff’s office, that they didn’t uphold their duty to protect, it might not pass muster. Since the police have no constitutional duty to protect any one individual, they can’t be liable when you get victimized and they didn’t show up in time.

        Perhaps you’re right. But in this case, they did show up in time, and instead of acting, they declined to act.

        Imagine if I woke up to a disturbance. While my wife calls the police, I adopt the correct high-ground defensive stance by securing the stairs that lead up to my bedroom. I reasonably well-armed for such a confrontation, but not with powerful semiautomatic rifles with large-capacity magazines.

        Let’s say there are several robbers high on drugs and determined. They make a suicide charge up the stairs and a shootout begins just as the police arrive, who hear the gunshots. Fearing for their lives, the cops take no action until backup arrives. My wife and I are killed because of their inaction. Our family has no cause of action because of the court rulings you cite.

        If that’s how the police operate, and if that’s okay, the right to keep and bear semiautomatic rifles is paramount, and any and all laws banning them must be instantly rendered unconstitutional. If the police have no duty to risk their lives to protect ours, how can we place our defense in their hands, and surrender our arms? No, sir.

        To be truthful, this school shooting and the actions of the officer present makes me want to go out and immediately purchase the most powerful semi-automatic weapons available along with a large stockpile of ammo and magazines. This screams the antithesis of what gun control activists have been arguing — that it is the duty of the military and police to protect us, and therefore only they need arms.

        By the way, I know you were arguing about the courts and how they see it, and you may be fully correct. I’m just pointing out that if that is so, we should be very concerned for our safety.

        • Aleksei

          I totally agree that disarming doesn’t convey any more safety to anyone, especially that in case of a bad outcome, you have no legal recourse.
          I’m sure that police officers are sincere when they take their oath and they want to help people and protect them when necessary, but from my understanding of the legality, there is no accountability of the officers if they fail to do their job, other than getting fired. That definitively is something, but for the victimized or their family it will be insufficient. This reminds me of that post Jack had about a “duty to protect law”, that would justify punishment for inaction. The conclusion was, that it’s not possible and silly. Also, you know that these gun control people aren’t serious, because the next day they talk about how the police is racist and that they are militarizing, so we have to get rid of the police. They can’t keep their story consistent.

  6. Hi, Jack. There’s not much I can add to your very well organized summary of the Parkland tragedy and its aftermath. I have to say, though, that the propaganda fest that has insure is one of the most blatant displays of media political bias that I’ve seen since the November election. There are a lot of bitter leftists out there who, at this point in time, had expected to be in a perpetual place of power. O them, this tragedy in Florida meant an opportunity to be milked and cherished. For a long time, I’ve characterized “Gun Free Zones” was being the equivalent of “easy pickings inside”. I reiterate that now. More than the artificial political hype, I fear that schools and children will be in greater danger than ever. The warped creatures among us now have a renewed appreciation of how easy it can be to kill people to their heart’s content- children in particular- with no great fear of being stopped before they’ve committed a massacre.

    BTW: Jack, I’ve tried again to sign up for your feed. Everything’s been pretty dicey since Hurricane Harvey took down my PC. All I have is this damned smartphone!

  7. 2) Flailing is precisely what the Broward Sheriff does every time he has to address poignant questions about his leadership in the Parkland shooting fallout.

  8. 5) Weapon of math destruction?

    I thought it was triggernometry?

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