1 Remember the Alamo! On this date in 1836, before dawn, the Alamo fell. From the official Alamo website:
While the Alamo was under siege, the provisional Texas government organized at Washington-on-the-Brazos. On March 2, the convention declared independence and the Republic of Texas was born, at least on paper. The Alamo’s garrison showed its support for independence from Mexico by sending its own delegates to the convention.While they were unaware that Texas had declared independence, the roughly 200 Alamo defenders stayed at their post waiting on help from the settlements. Among them were lawyers, doctors, farmers and a former congressman and famous frontiersman from Tennessee named David Crockett. While the youngest was 16 and the oldest defender was Gordon C. Jennings, age 56, most defenders were in their twenties. Most were Anglo, but there were a handful of native Tejano defenders as well. Legendary knife fighter and land speculator James Bowie was in command before falling ill and sharing duties with Travis. Several women and children were inside the Alamo, including 15-month-old Angelina Dickinson. Just before the final battle, Travis placed his ring around her neck, knowing she would likely be spared. One of the last messages from the Alamo was a note from Travis asking friends to take care of his young son Charles.
The final attack came before dawn on March 6, 1836. As Mexican troops charged toward the Alamo in the pre-dawn darkness, defenders rushed to the walls and fired into the darkness. Travis raced to the north wall but was soon killed. Bowie was most likely killed in his bed, while reports differ as to Crockett’s death. Many believe Crockett survived the initial attack but was put to death by Mexican soldiers soon afterward.
Mexican soldiers breached the north wall and flooded into the compound. The fierce battle centered on the old church, where defenders made a last stand.
The battle lasted about 90 minutes.
BEXAR, Texas, March 6, 1836 — Alas, alas! Forever more, the name of the Alamo shall stand alongside that of Thermopylae in the annals of history as a tale of unmatched bravery to be handed down from generation to generation.
The bastion of Texas Liberty has fallen, and to a man, Lt. Col. William Travis and his fellow defenders — like the immortal 300 Spartans — have been martyred.
After withstanding an unrelenting siege of twelve days’ duration by one of the mightiest armies ever assembled on this continent, the walls of the old mission that had housed Travis (a man as brave as the fabled King Leonidas), Col. James Bowie, the Hon. David Crockett and some 200 other defenders were breached before the sun rose to-day.
Savagery was unleashed therein as a juggernaut orchestrated by the modern-day Xerxes, Mexican Gen. Antonio López de Santa Anna, swept over the Alamo….
Since I was a small boy, this episode in American history moved me more than any other. It still does. I first learned about the Alamo when I watched Fess Parker as Davy Crocket, swinging his rifle like a baseball bat at Mexiacn skulls, the last man standing as behind him we could see more of Santa Anna’s soldiers pouring over the wall. We never saw Davy fall—my dad explained that this was appropriate, since nobody is sure how or when he died, unlike Travis and Bowie, and the last verse of the Ballad of Davy Crocket played…
from grassy plains to the mountain crest
He’s ahead of us all meetin’ the test
followin’ his legend into the West
Davy, Davy Crockett, king of the wild frontier!
The politics and complexities of the Texas war of independence don’t alter the essential facts: a group of men of different backgrounds, under the command of three prototypical American figures—the pioneer (Crocket), the settler (Bowie), and the law-maker (Travis), all of whom were trying to recover from dark periods in their lives—chose to make the ultimate sacrifice for a cause they believed in fervently enough to die for, in the company of others who felt the same. It was, after all, the perfect ethical dilemma, the choice between an ethical act for the benefit of society and a non-ethical consideration, the most basic one of all: staying alive. They all had the same choice, and rejected life for a principle.
That’s what I remember about the Alamo.
2. There is hope. Once again, I gave a 90 minute presentation to a Boy Scout troop and parents last night, and challenged them this time with several hypotheticals that Ethics Alarms readers would recognize, such as this one, the plight of Ryan Seacrest and those who snubbed him on the red carpet, the “Mrs. Miniver” flower show, and this one, from personal experience, which set off the most lively debate of all:
Your professional theater company has limited funds, so it offers its actors an option. They may choose a flat fee for their roles, or get a percentage of the show’s profits, if there are any, on top of a much smaller base fee.
The company just completed an extremely profitable production, the biggest hit your theater has ever had. Nine of the show’s ten cast members chose the percentage of profits option, a gamble, because most of the shows lose money. One, the star, who you know could not afford to gamble, took the flat fee for the role. After the accounting for the production is complete, you realize that every member of the cast will make $1000 more than the star, because of the show’s profits.
Question 1: What do you do?
- Give him the extra $1000. It’s only fair.
- Pay him the flat fee. A deal’s a deal.
You can weigh in:
Question 2: You remount the production, and the exact same thing happens. The actor chooses the flat fee, the show is again a huge money-maker,,and the rest of the cast will make much more than him because they chose the percentage. Do you give him the extra amount again?
- No. Now he’s taking advantage of me.
- Yes. Nothing has changed.
As before, the approximately 50 11- and 12-year old boys were astute, serious, thoughtful, and gutsy, and their ethical instincts were superb.
3. From the anti-gun freak-out files…Arming teachers is a bad idea, BUT…permitting a teacher with military training and a facility with fire arms to carry a weapon on the job is not an absurd deterrence strategy. Yet when history teacher Timothy Locke made that point to his Cherry Hill (NJ) high school class—he is a combat veteran—a student (what kind of pathetic student-weenies are we raising?) complained to the administration that his comments made her feel “unsafe.” Thus the school suspended Locke, had his locker searched his locker for weapons, and demanded that he have a mental exam.
Some of the students staged a walk out in protest, and parents are demanding that the school justify its actions.
It can’t, of course. The lesson being conveyed is that thought and speech control by the state is necessary and normal. This was just another gun-phobic freak-out by the ideologically rigid and intellectually limited types who run the darker corners of the public education system—“you know: morons.” If you think about it, Locke should have expected this. After previous anti-gun freak-outs, schools punished and in some cases called the cops for such student transgressions as making a finger-gun or wearing a USMC tee-shirt showing a rifle. A teacher actually talking about guns positively?
4. And speaking of students and freak-outs…I want to officially endorse the anger, if not the exact rhetoric, of blogger Marta Hernandez commenting on last night’s revolting appearance by Parkland shooting survivors David Hogg and Cameron Kasky on “Real Time” with Bill Maher. The exploitation and manipulation of these kids by anti-gun activists is ugly and cynical; they are being used to mouth extremist, often indefensible positions that no adult could get away with. Unlike Hernandez, I am still fighting not to blame the kids too much for believing what the unethical courtiers are whispering into their inexperienced ears, but as some point they are accountable: they are voluntarily playing in an adult forum, and cannot demand special dispensation forever. Here is Hernandez in part, and in fine form…
Not only do the idiot Parkland kids now compare themselves to the Founding Fathers of our country, who were more intelligent, accomplished, mature, courageous, and dedicated to the cause of liberty than these entitled punks – enough to pick up arms and fight for independence – but now, they’re apparently the “experts.” Experts on what?
Apparently school shootings, guns, firearm policy, and constitutional law, according to David Hogg, who keeps beating his meat for fame and glory and blowing his wad right over the corpses of his classmates! Hogg, and his little twit buddy Cameron Kasky joined Bill Maher on Friday to discuss their efforts on behalf of their own pathetic egos to disarm law-abiding citizens.
“We are the experts,” the two arrogant little weasels declared to Maher. Kasky also delivered a strong response to members of the National Rifle Association and lawmakers who claim the student activists “don’t know what they’re talking about.”“We’ve been locked in a classroom. We have seen our friends text their parents goodbye. We are the experts,” he said. “We know exactly what we’re talking about. How dare you tell us we don’t know?”
Apparently they’re not experts at respecting the President of the United States when he invites them to discuss the very policies they’re trying to impose on innocent people of the United States.
They’re also not experts on human decency or honesty, claiming the President’s invitation was “offensive,” given that “there were funerals the next day, there was mourning we still had to do.”
Mourning and standing with their classmates… unless they had interviews and stuff to do, according to Hogg’s froth-flecked little buddy Emma Gonzalez, because they’re SOOOOOOO busy!
How dare we?
I dare because I have more experience with firearms policy than both of you pathetic gremlins have been alive. I dare because I took an oath to serve in the US military and protect and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, using force if necessary – to even protect you, no matter what kind of sewage spills out of your ignorant pie holes.
I dare because I deployed. I carried a firearm. I qualified with several firearms in the military, and I dare say I know quite a bit more of them than two punks who cowered in a locked classroom while a murderer mowed down their classmates. I dare because I’ve seen how countries that disarm their own citizens abuse and murder their own people – all while you spent your lives playing video games, going to school in relative peace and safety, and enjoying the rights and freedoms the disarmed citizenry of those other nations doesn’t have.
Yeah, they’re the experts. By that logic, I must be an expert on dicks, because I was sexually assaulted in college….
Do anti-gun activists really think that two kids claiming to be “experts” is anything but self-disqualifying? If you are really so dumb that you believe their logic—here’s a few more of Emma’s analogies—
By that logic, anyone who has had an overflowing toilet must be an expert plumber.
By that logic, anyone who has gotten drunk must be an expert on distilling.
By that logic, anyone who is fat must be an expert chef.
By that logic, anyone who’s had a home destroyed by a fire must be an expert firefighter.
By that logic, being a diabetic makes you an endocrinologist.
—then you are a useless, icompetent advocate for or against anything, incapable of critical thought. Of course, Bill Maher is smart enough that he could have made the same observations as Hernandez, or funnier ones, but he chose to allow the students’ ridiculous assertion stand unchallenged, showing Maher’s own lack of integrity.
5. Today’s Supreme Court note: The Court appears poised to overturn Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, the 1977 ruling that allowed unions to collect mandatory dues from non-union members. It was on the way to oblivion in another case when Antonin Scalia died, leaving a deadlocked court that left a lower court decision in line with Abood intact. Now, however, Niel Gorsuch is sitting in the previously empty chair. In a new case, Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Council 31 attorneys for Mark Janus, a child support specialist for the state of Illinois are arguing that people like Janus, who choose not to join a union, shouldn’t be compelled to pay partial union fees which will support the union’s lobbying efforts, among other things The union argues that he should because he benefits from collective bargaining negotiations.
However the Court decides, it is a classic ethics conflict, with two undeniable ethical principles in direct opposition. Is it fair for Janus to be a “free rider,” befitting from the union’s efforts on his behalf but not supporting the organization? No. Is it fair for him to be compelled by law to support political speech he does not endorse? No—in fact, it’s unconstitutional, and always had been.
My guess is that Janus wins, and the unions lose. Already, we are hearing and reading angry recriminations about how Mitch McConnell’s unethical refusal to allow President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to replace Scalia will have paid off for anti-union conservatives. Maybe…but that doesn’t mean that overturning Abood isn’t the correct call.