1. “The Rifleman” and “Fix the problem.” I recently was interviewed by a graduate student in organizational leadership and ethics. One thing we discussed was how popular culture in America once dedicated itself to teaching ethical values and ethics problem-solving, especially in shows aimed at young audiences. This is not so true any more; indeed, popular culture models unethical conduct at least as often today.
I told my interviewer about recently watching an episode of “The Rifleman,” the early ’60s TV Western about a single father raising his young son while being called upon to use his skill with a rifle to fight for civilization in the harsh frontier. In the episode, hero Lucas McCain (played by the under-rated Chuck Connors) had to deal with an old friend, now an infamous outlaw, who had come to town. (The ethical conflict between personal loyalty and an individual’s duty to society was a frequent theme in Westerns.) Lucas was a part-time deputy, and at the climax of the episode, his friend-gone-bad is prepared to ride out of town to escape arrest for his latest crime. Lucas tells him not to leave, and that if he tries to escape, Lucas will have to let his custom-made rifle settle the matter, as usual. (Peace-loving Lucas somehow managed to kill over a hundred men during the run of the series.) Smirking, his friend (Richard Anderson, later known as the genius behind “The Six Million Dollar Man”), says that he knows his old friend is bluffing. For Lucas owes him a lifetime debt: he once saved “The Rifleman’s” life. You’re a good man and a fair man, the villain says. “You won’t shoot me. I know you.” Then he mounts his horse , and with a smiling glance back at “The Rifleman,” who is seemingly paralyzed by the ethical conflict, starts to depart. Now his back is all Lucas has to shoot at, doubling the dilemma. You never shoot a man in the back, an ethical principle that the two officers who killed Stephon Clark somehow missed. We see McCain look at his deadly rifle, then again at the receding horseman. Then, suddenly, he hurls his rifle, knocking his friend off his horse. The stunned man is arrested by the sheriff, and says, lamely, as he’s led away. “I knew you wouldn’t shoot me.”
I love this episode. It teaches that we have to seek the best solution available when we face ethics conflicts, and that this often requires rejecting the binary option presented to us, and finding a way to fix the problem.
Of course, it helped that Chuck Connors used to play for the Dodgers, and could hurl that rifle with the accuracy of Sandy Koufax.
2. Here we go again! Now that anti-gun hysteria is again “in,” thanks to the cynical use of some Parkland students to carry the anti-Second Amendment message without having to accept the accountability adults do when they make ignorant, dishonest, and illogical arguments in public, teachers and school administrators are back to chilling free speech and expression by abusing their students with absurd “no-tolerance” enforcement. At North Carolina’s Roseboro-Salemburg Middle School, for example, a 13-year-old boy in the seventh grade was suspended for two days for drawing a stick figure holding a gun.
I drew pictures like this—well, I was little better at it—well into my teens. It’s a picture. It isn’t a threat. It isn’t anything sinister, except to hysterics and fanatics without a sense of perspective or proportion—you know, the kind of people who shouldn’t be trusted to mold young minds. “Due to everything happening in the nation, we’re just being extra vigilant about all issues of safety,” said Sampson County Schools’ Superintendent Eric Bracy, an idiot. How does punishing a boy for a drawing make anyone safer? It makes all of us less safe, by pushing us one step closer to government censorship of speech and thought.
Then we have Zach Cassidento, a high school senior at Amity High Regional School in Connecticut who was suspended and arrested —arrested!—for posting a picture of his birthday gift, an Airsoft gun, on Snapchat. He was not charged, but was suspended for a day from school….for posting, outside of school, on his personal account, the picture of an entirely legal toy gun (It shoots plastic pellets: my son has several of them).
The people who do this kind of thing to children in violation of their rights as Americans are the same people who cheer on David Hogg while signing factually and legally ridiculous petitions. They should not be permitted to teach, and this kind of conduct ought to be punished.
Where is the ACLU? For the organization not to attack these abuses is an abdication of the organization’s mission.
3. Not a hero, but a victim. Katie Mullen, a University of Nebraska sophomore who heads the Turning Point USA chapter on campus, walked out on her professor after the prof falsely stated that the Second Amendment doesn’t protect individual rights and then prepared to show “Bowling for Columbine,” the Michael Moore anti-gun documentary best remembered for his filming a confused Charlton Heston after the actor had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. She tweeted about her actions to her followers, and is being hailed as a “hero” by the Right. She’ll be a hero when she takes genuine action to demand accountability when a professor proves to be incompetent, like challenging the professor in class. Walking out is a retreat.
Like all college students who pay for an education and receive indoctrination instead, she is a victim. I’ll give her that.
4. Update: Cosby’s judge’s alleged conflict. I previously posted a quiz about Bill Cosby’s lawyers alleging that the woman-drugging rapist/comedian’s judge should recuse because his wife is an advocate for sexual abuse victims. From the Times:
Judge Steven T. O’Neill of the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas grew emotional and paused twice to compose himself as he read a statement defending his wife, Deborah V. O’Neill, a therapist at a University of Pennsylvania center where she counsels students who have been sexually assaulted. He described her as an independent woman with her own views that have no relevance to his views as a judge or the retrial of the veteran entertainer.
“It’s difficult to have her accomplishments trivialized by a partisan motion,” the judge said. “My wife’s personal beliefs and her professional activities are of no consequence. They do not influence me one iota.”
Of course he would say that.
Does anyone believe that one’s spouses beliefs “have no influence whatsoever”?
5. The Emergency Goalie Accountant. There has to be some kind of an award for Scott Foster. NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks lost two goalies and desperate, so they signed an emergency, desperation replacement: Foster, who works as an accountant and last played competitive hockey in the 2005-06 season when he was a student at Western Michigan University. He boldly set himself up for infamy or embarrassment, playing with the pros in front of a filled arena when he hadn’t played at all for 12 years, and stopped all seven shots attempted by the opposing Winnipeg Jets while he was guarding the net. He was paid $500.
Pointer and Source (Item 2): Jonathan Turley