Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/31/2018: The Baseball-Trained Rifleman, The Hockey Hero Accountant, And Some Other Stuff That’s Just Annoying…

Good morning!

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 arrestedarrested!—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

16 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/31/2018: The Baseball-Trained Rifleman, The Hockey Hero Accountant, And Some Other Stuff That’s Just Annoying…

  1. Jack: Do you really think the ACLU’s mission matters to them? They seem to more interested another, larger mission. Hint: It’s the same mission much of journalism and education is on.

  2. 3. Disagree, Jack. Here is what I received recently from someone on FB who had an “issue” in her college class. I strongly suspect that anything close to the right of center will have a similar reaction in far too many classrooms. When brought to the attention of the administration their solution was for her to do the coursework and submit it to the department chair. I requested her permission to use this, but she feels any further actions on her part will be academic suicide. If you have dissent it is best to stay off the radar.

    “I am tired of your Trumpian foolishness.” Your argument is a total fallacy simply because it is nothing more than more right-wing blather. I am not here to debate you on every single point I bring up in a lecture. If you can’t listen to me in a respectful manner than just leave and fail. Based on your attitude and radical blather I intend to fail you anyways.”

  3. “Peace-loving Lucas somehow managed to hill over a hundred men during the run of the series.”

    Typo or obscure Western slang as in he sent them to Boot Hill?


    All you needed to know about student activist David Hogg’s speech at the “March for Our Lives” in Washington, D.C., over the weekend was that he affixed a price tag on the microphone to symbolize how much National Rifle Association money Sen. Marco Rubio took for the lives of students in Florida.

    The stunt wasn’t out of place. Indeed, it perfectly encapsulated the braying spirit of the student gun-control advocacy in the wake of the Parkland, Florida, school shooting.

    These young activists are making our public debate even more poisonous and less civil, and are doing it as teenagers. They are precocious that way.

    The Stoneman Douglas students experienced a horrific trauma. No one can deny their grief or blame them for being impassioned. And allowance has to be made for the fact that they are teenagers, who universally believe that they know better than their hapless elders (Hogg says the problem is that their parents don’t know how to use a democracy).

    Yet none of that excuses their scurrilous smears of the other side in the gun debate. The student activists presume that there is a ready solution to mass shootings that everyone knows, and the only reason why someone might not act on this universally accepted policy is malice or corruption. This makes the other side the equivalent of murderers.

    March for Our Lives is as liberal as a torchlight parade in 1930’s Munich.

    • “..don’t know howto use a democracy..” may have some truth to it,but more likely they used democracy the way they wanted, and this is the result. They elected a president who chose to bypass the legislative process and rule by edict, sending his Dept of Education and Department of Justice out to bully local law enforcement and local school districts into contracts that mask the bad and/or criminal behavior of students so that they may have a “fair chance” at a decent adult life. They now know that by masking that bad behavior they effectively exempted those bad actors from the common sense (their words) laws regulating who gets to buy a firearm.

      They also used that democracy to elect the sheriff and school superintendent (ir the board that hired him) who were not that hard to bully into agreeing to the Promise program. And now the blame the NRA and law abiding gun owners instead.

  5. Number 5. And he did it during the height of TAX SEASON! I wonder whether he can fend off IRS audits as well as he can hockey pucks.

  6. I read a different story about the emergency goalie. He regularly plays in a hockey league that consists of ex college players and even some pros. He regularly attends games there as the back up goalie, this is just the first time he had to play. The team named him MVP. What an amazing story!

  7. 1- “The Rifleman” was MUST SEE TV in the Schlecht household back in the day.

    Worthy of note; Connors was one hell of an athlete. In addition to his baseball career, he was drafted by the NFL’s Chicago Bears AND played for the Boston Celtics.

    He’s one of only dozen that played in both MLB and the NBA.

  8. Here is an update.

    The education business has gone all out to further the message of the anti-gun movement in recent weeks. Public schools nationwide let kids out of school, ostensibly to “demand” more gun control laws. Some students who chose not to protest or dared to express an opposing view were reportedly suspended. And now, one teacher in Georgia has a special assignment for her young skulls full of mush.

    Boys and girls at Hampton Middle School in Georgia were instructed by their teacher to write letters to lawmakers calling for stricter gun control laws.

    “You are trying to persuade lawmakers to have stricter gun laws to help prevent another school shooting from taking place,” the assignment declared. “For this assignment, you are writing a letter to the lawmakers of the United States. The purpose of this letter is to pressure lawmakers to have stricter gun laws in the United States.

    All in all it’s just another brick in the wall. As one parent reported,

    “I asked him what he had for homework that night, and he said he had to write a paper on gun control,” William Lee told Blue Lives Matter. “I looked at it, and I told my son, ‘No, you’re not doing that assignment.’ Then I emailed his teacher the next day and told him that my son would not be writing that.”

    When pressed, the Henry County Schools backed off.

    “This activity took the wrong approach in limiting the ability of students to share any thoughts outside of what was directed of them when the subject elicits many different viewpoints from people, including students,” the (school district) spokesman told me.

    The anti-2A message is strong and pervasive these days, pushed by educrats, entertainers and the media. How are you countering the prevailing guns-are-bad influences your young ‘uns are subjected to?

  9. Jack: I enjoyed your post on the Rifleman. I too, support 2nd Amend. rights. I also support students who want to be safe in school. We come from a different day. When we watched westerns and cartoons, we didn’t want to really kill each other. Fantasy games and hatred didn’t take over us. We need to remind people there are alot of hunters in our country who follow the rules and actually feed their families and neighbors with what they catch. Sometimes a gun may be needed for protection. We do need better checks on a person’s background before they purchase a gun. We also need to talk with the students in a respectful manner. Their generation has been traumatized and I can’t imagine the courage it takes for them to even get up and go to school. We had it easier in the 60s and 70s. There was bullying then but not the anger they have witnessed and express. They didn’t grow up with good and bad portrayed. They live in a gray world where their aren’t many trusted real or symbolic heros. We need to work together. I did enjoy your comments but as I age I find cynicism between generations teaches nothing. Remember Lucas even “shot” those ideas from the hip…

    • “I too, support 2nd Amend. rights. I also support students who want to be safe in school.”

      Good. These are not in conflict. Children are safer NOW than ever before. Violence is decreasing. Gun related violence is decreasing. We do not have an epidemic of violence to worry about. We have an epidemic of politicizing increasingly rare violent incidences… that’s what we should be wary about.

      “We do need better checks on a person’s background before they purchase a gun.”

      Like what?

      Until someone has committed a crime, they have not committed a crime. Background checks determine if an attempted purchaser is a prior criminal. Denying someone their rights for anything else is pre-crime and a violation of due process.

      Seems like our background check system does it’s job.

      “We need to remind people there are alot of hunters in our country who follow the rules and actually feed their families and neighbors with what they catch. “

      The hunter argument is empty. The 2nd Amendment was not crafted to protect hunting. So on pure values, it hunting has no bearing on the 2nd Amendment. I would be completely comfortable with the constitutionality of laws that restrict hunting (I don’t think I’d vote for them, but they’d be constitutional). The 2nd Amendment is about protecting the citizen’s empowerment as the FINAL check and balance in our elaborate system of checks and balances.

      Outside of values, in the realm of statistics (which should have little bearing on values-based decisions, but might so on other policies…like hunting)…I’d love to see the stats on people who, by necessity, feed their families from hunting. My guess is that almost 0 people *rely* on hunting to eat. I have no doubt that many people choose to supplement their food sourcing with hunting, but I’d bet money, that in our modern society, even out of 320 million of us, maybe 1000 actually must rely on hunting to eat.

      “We also need to talk with the students in a respectful manner. Their generation has been traumatized and I can’t imagine the courage it takes for them to even get up and go to school.”

      This assertion is disconnected from reality–there’s no constructive way to respond.

      “They didn’t grow up with good and bad portrayed. They live in a gray world where their aren’t many trusted real or symbolic heros.”

      This is accurate. And a lack of a moral/ethical compass plagues each new generation. But I wonder how our nation got that way…what happened?

      • My point regarding hunters: concern for their rights to KEEP guns. BTW more folks in rural areas still use fish and game for food. Some of us actually donate to food pantries. My thought on school safety: kids have to deal with gangs, skinheads, occult groups, drug users, pushers and PC propaganda trying to sway them to join their agenda. Then there is bullying. Talk about stress and anger. That factor does not mean just because officers are posted in schools there will not be problems. As far as background checks for guns: look at the recent revelations by law enforcement errors by not tracking and providing info that could have prevented fatalities. Why should anyone have weapons meant for military use. Checks should be more thorough at gun shows and stores. BUT I question in this country if it will stop the spread of illegal sales by deviant sources. And last but not least:”What happened?” My response – God and common sense values were taken out of schools by athiests and laws. We lost the love your neighbor as yourself truth. That we had in the 50s and 60s.

        • “BTW more folks in rural areas still use fish and game for food.”

          I never said they don’t use fish and game for food. I said, in modern society and modern commercial networks there is no *necessity* to do so. I wouldn’t vote to stop people from getting food the good old fashioned way, but I wouldn’t cry “UNCONSTITUTIONAL LAW” if a particular government did curtail hunting (I would cry “STUPID LAW” however). Ooops…lemme caveat, I’d definitely cry “UNCONSTITUTIONAL” if the government’s curtailment extended to a hunter’s own property…

          “As far as background checks for guns: look at the recent revelations by law enforcement errors by not tracking and providing info that could have prevented fatalities.”

          Which has nothing to do with the background check system, which can ONLY review prior criminal behavior. But yes, the topic of failing to pursue and investigate clear warning signals in that boy’s life is a fertile topic. But understand it can have nothing to do with background checks without simultaneously opening the door for massive governmental intrusion into EVERYONE’s life.

          “Why should anyone have weapons meant for military use.”

          Because the military has access to them and citizens have every right and republican *duty* to be as well armed as the average infantryman.

          “Checks should be more thorough at gun shows and stores.”

          They are. And the tiny amount that manage to slip by is a vanishingly miniscule quantity.

          • M.West; I agree with you about not wanting the government to pry into our backgrounds. It’s sad to say but between the Patriot Act, and Social Media Sites they have too much on us already. I don’t agree that we should have automatic weapons. I don’t own other options like a tank or drones , either. Still holding on to the necessity issue of food from nature. Their are places in our nationthat look like neglected 3rd world countries and they aren’t able to run to food marts or are limited by food stamps if they even try to qualify. Some folks don’t want government help/or handouts. One thing I do agree on Mr. West is we both have the right of our opinions. I love this site. God bless.

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