Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/28/18: Ad-block, Rights-block, Deportation-block, and Stupid-block

Good Morning!

1 Different rights, same unethical tactics. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), whose very existence as a power in the Democratic Party is an indictment of the party’s integrity and trustworthiness, proved it again by proposing a bill that would require background checks for ammunition purchases. “You do not have the right to bear bullets,” she  proclaimed Monday at a news conference at the Pembroke Pines Police Department in Florida.

Progressives, honest observers, and the courts have rightly expressed disgust at various cynical efforts to circumvent other Constitutional rights by similar tactics. In Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, for example, decided on June 27, 2016, the Supreme Court held in a 5-3 majority that two provisions of a Texas law, one requiring physicians who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital and another requiring abortion clinics in the state to have facilities comparable to an ambulatory surgical center,  places a substantial and unconstitutional obstacle in the path of women seeking an abortion, because they constituted an undue burden on abortion access.

I wrote at the time,

“Life would be so much simpler if our elected officials and activists employed an adaptation of the Golden Rule, and looked objectively at issues from the other side’s point of view. This is especially true in the realm of rights.  Second Amendment absolutists insist that virtually any laws regulating who can purchase guns… have the ultimate goal of  eliminating that right entirely, which, in many instances is the case, especially if you listen carefully to the rhetoric of the legislators proposing such measures. There is little difference from this and what anti-abortion advocates are attempting to do with laws like House Bill 2 (H. B. 2).”

In fact there was no difference at all, and now Wasserman-Schultz is using the same unethical tactic. (Imagine: Debbie Wasserman-Schultz using an unethical tactic!)  The ethical principle is the same in both matters: a right isn’t a right if legal obstacles make it difficult to exercise that right. Any regulation imposed on a constitutional right must not create “a substantial obstacle” and must be reasonably related to “a legitimate state interest.” Wasserman-Schultz’s statement—I know she’s an idiot, but she is also a member of Congress and is supposed to know something—directly contradicts settled and core Constitutional principles. There is indeed a “right to bear bullets,” because without ammunition, the right to bear arms is an illusion.

2. Nope, I’m not whitelisting you. One more website I have used to scout ethics issues informed me that I could do so no longer unless I “turned off my ad blocker.” “The only way we can continue to provide content for free  is if advertising helps pay for your free browsing. Please support us by turning off your adblocker, we’re only you asking to disable it this site. We really appreciate it,” I was told.


I’ll look at ads you post on your site. Trying to read something while being bombarded by pop-up ads, however, is annoying and burdensome, and so is having to turn my ad-blocker on and off constantly. I send your site readers via links, so you can charge more for those ads. If you want me to pay a nominal fee for a paywall, fine: ask for it.

3. Now THIS is an unethical deportation: Miguel Perez-Montes, 39, came to the United States legally when he was 8 years old, but never became a citizen. But he enlisted in the Army in 2001, and served as a paratrooper and private first class in Afghanistan. He was discharged in 2004 after he began suffering from severe symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.  In 2010, Perez-Montes was convicted of a felony drug charge involving cocaine and sentenced to 15 years in prison. ICE began proceedings to deport him in 2012.

Last week, Perez-Montes was escorted across the border to Mexico.

Senator Tammy Duckworth, D-llinois, had appealed to the Department of Homeland Security stay his deportation and review his case, writing,“This is a deplorable way to treat a veteran who risked his life in combat for our nation.”

I agree with her. This is a perfect storm of misaligned objectives and botches on all sides. Perez-Montes came to the U.S. at the age of 8 to the United States on a petition through a family member, and has been a permanent legal resident since age 11. He apparently was never in the country illegally. Why didn’t he become a citizen? Good question: that was a big mistake, because non-citizens can get deported for criminal convictions. There is usually nothing wrong with that policy, but the fact of his military service should at least guarantee that he is treated like an American criminal.

4. Three steps to avoid making yourself and other people stupid. Journalism teacher Michael Socolow authored  a helpful, if futile, op-ed about how to stem the spread of fake news and bad punditry on Facebook and other social media.  His tips:

  • If news breaks on a truly important story, there should be a link to a credible news source” 

The problem, of course, is that there is no such think any more as a “credible news source. Some are still more credible than others, however.

  • “If breaking news on social media aligns perfectly with your carefully structured view of the world, then pause before liking it or retweeting it…unpleasant and frustrating information — no matter how accurate — is actively hidden from you to maximize your social media engagement.”

In other words, beware confirmation bias, for it will make you stupid.

  • There are numerous reasons to participate in the public sphere, and everyone can contribute something valuable. But there’s also far too much noise out there, and we need to think more seriously and realistically about the added value of our own communication.”

True, but impossible. Everyone thinks their own noise is indispensable and the soul of wit and wisdom, Moreover, the desperate urge on Facebook to endear oneself to the herd makes gratuitous virtue-signaling via indiscriminate “likes” and half-baked comments irresistible.

26 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/28/18: Ad-block, Rights-block, Deportation-block, and Stupid-block

  1. Never thought I’d write this. Kudos to Senator Duckworth. Mr. Perez-Montes deserves more respect, even in his criminality.

  2. #3 I agree.

    Furthermore; It blows my mind why any non-citizen honorably serving in the United States military is not automatically given United States citizenship after their first contract of service is complete. These people have literally signed over their lives to support and defend the United States of America, there is no greater commitment to the United States of America that a non-citizen can give. They have EARNED automatic citizenship as stated above.

    • I agree – although in this case all it would mean is he goes to jail here rather than somewhere else. I do agree with the idea of non-citizens gaining citizenship upon completion of a term in the military, provided they complete that term honorably. and providing that the first year of citizenship be probationary, to provide fewer cracks for bad eggs to slip through.

      • I think this guy would have had trouble on that as well, because according to the CNN article he got a general discharge in ’04 due to smoking marijuana on a base. So if he took the time to apply after his first tour, he should have been “fine”. I mean, getting caught with 2 lbs. of coke in 2010, that’s the area of drug dealing. Based on these circumstances, I think it is this guy’s fault for his fate. The article shows nothing to explain why he didn’t apply for citizenship between ’04-’10. It’s fair to assume, he was ignorant or it wasn’t important to him.

          • Wait a minute. Fifteen years in a (federal?) prison in the U.S. is preferable to being set free in Mexico immediately? I thought Mexico was a wonderful and diverse and charming community and someplace the United States should try to emulate.

    • It might have something to do with dual citizenship requirements in some places. There might be people who get some benefit from their birth citizenship that they’d lose if they took another one, and so even if they live and even serve the US, they still want the old one on paper.

      But I totally agree it should at least be an option as simple as checking a box for service personnel.

  3. #2 Any website that has popup ads of any kind when you get to their site that you have to close to see the website content, I close the site and never return.

    As for ads on the sides of web content, I’m actually pretty good at ignoring them and I never, ever click on any of them. If something happens to catch my eye, I’ll find another way of searching it out instead of clicking on the ads. I refuse to enable click bait ads.

  4. #1 Debbie Wasserman Schultz is a drain on the intellect of humanity; she is a public nuisance. She’s like the KKK in that she should be ignored and shunned as a detriment to society and the human race. Debbie Wasserman Schultz is a walking talking example of what dumbing down sounds like.

    I will be so glad when the intelligence light get’s turned back on and the political left wises up and people like her and Nancy Pelosi et al get stripped of their public leadership status and end up in the realms of “Oh My God! What the fuck were we thinking?”. Their kind of Liberalism IS an untreatable mental condition.

  5. 1. Debbie raises the average IQ in both locations every time she leaves DC and returns home. Seriously, though: this is why the ‘we don’t want your guns’ is seen as a lie. Progressives grand standing in this fashion (this bill has no chance of seeing the light of day) confirms what gun owners already suspect: the death of a thousand cuts gun control advocates are using. Their ultimate goal is to destroy the 2nd. The mask slips often enough to remind us to never give an inch.

    2. I will take Zoltar’s approach going forward on these ads. Refuse to feed the corruption.

    3. Dude should have gotten citizenship. Mexico has no problem with dual status, after all! The drug charges could have stemmed from his attempt to cope with the PTSD and the Veterans Administration treating him… carelessly, but if he served in the Army he was given every opportunity to study and take the exam. Bad life choices sometimes lead to consequences, and while Miguel may have served our nation that does not mitigate his personal responsibility to himself.

    Did he leave any family or kids behind? They would be the real victims of his risky life choices.

    4. Social media is being used against you. You have no protections at all, and will STILL have none if Facebook changes policies. I predict they will keep the information regardless if the user attempts to erase it. It just will not show publicly any more. This is the reason they exist: gather and sell information of those gullible enough to provide it for free.

    My job in Military Intel was to gather all information on a targeted person, group, or nation. The ultimate uses of that information were not, ahem, in the target’s own best interests. They were often consequently targeted in a different fashion, with far more ‘tangible’ results. (High explosives can really ruin your day)

    I see no reason to give a government I do not trust any additional information which could be used against me than they already have, which is considerable.

  6. #4 Social media has some great tools to build up your own personal echo chamber. You simply block anyone who’s willing to offer an opinion that differs from your own and like anyone that echoes your opinions. It’s great for all the snowflakes out there that have been receiving participation trophies their entire life and don’t know how to deal with adversity.

    What bothers me more about social media is how people have become so personally disconnected when they use the computer. Many people allow their fingers to type all kinds of hateful things that they would never say in person, I have a few Facebook friends that I see multiple times every week that are like that and I’ve questioned them about it; some have shifted their behavior because of our discussions. I’ve found that most people are themselves regardless of the keyboard separation but it is becoming a growing problem. Some people seem to grow into their online facade and they literally become the asshole they’ve portrayed online right up to the point of physical confrontation and then their core character kicks in the facade is stripped away; a good example of this is when online trolls stalking online opponents become real world stalkers.

  7. You do not have the right to bear bullets

    This is an example of what I like to call “a stupid person’s idea of what a clever argument would look like.”

    Other perennial examples include “You have a right to do X, but that doesn’t mean the government can’t punish you for it”, or its reciprocal, “X isn’t mandatory, it’s just that the government will punish you for not doing it.

  8. A couple of thoughts on #1. First of all, in states like Illinois, where you must have a state ID card (called a Firearm Owner’s ID, or “FOID”) to purchase or own a weapon, you cannot buy ammunition unless you show your FOID card. So there is at least from a constitutional sense some acceptable limitation on a person’s ability to buy ammunition. Second, I distinctly recall Pat Paulsen, in his comedic presidential campaign of 1968, argue that he was opposed to gun control, because “guns don’t kill people, bullets kill people.” Accordingly, he argued for “bullet control.” Finally, there have been some fairly expansive proposals in the arena of ammunition control, mainly aimed at preventing people from walking around with loaded guns for an extended time frame or identifying rounds used in criminal activities. These proposals include mandating the manufacture of ammunition in hermetically sealed containers; when the seal was broken, the ammunition would, over a period of 30 days, become inert. Another involved chemically fingerprinting rounds so that purchase place (and thus identification of the buyer) could be readily determined. Other proposals included legally making ammunition rounds “hazardous substances” subject to regulation by the FDA or CDC, both of which seem to have powerful institutional biases against guns and gun owners. The constitutionality of these proposals, as Jack notes above, is questionable because each of them would seriously burden the exercise of a gun owners rights.

    • Ammunition fingerprinting schemes are unworkable, for any of several reasons. One reason is (as you noted) the costs involved would burden gun owner’s rights to the point of being a de facto ban. Another reason is that many of these are technically unworkable given our current understanding of physics, materials technology, and machining tolerances.

      The best reason why this is all fart huffing? Reloaders have literally billions of rounds worth of materials to make more bullets at home. These would have to be confiscated door to door just like guns themselves would. When those manufactured supplies run out, there are still options.

      Lead can be melted at home into bullets. Gunpowder can be made on a farm. Casings and primers are the hard materials to replicate, but it can be done with the know-how. You might not get the same ballistic qualities as manufactured bullets, but the physics would be just as deadly.

      We would be in a full fledged civil war by that point.

  9. True, but impossible. Everyone thinks their own noise is indispensable and the soul of wit and wisdom, Moreover, the desperate urge on Facebook to endear oneself to the herd makes gratuitous virtue-signaling via indiscriminate “likes” and half-baked comments irresistible.

    I have no issue resisting the urge. My Facebook stream is full of people across the political spectrum. I know no matter what, I post, half of them don’t want to see it.

    It used to be that you don’t bring up politics or religion in polite company. Sadly civility has declined and this is just another symptom.

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