…Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are…
1. Apologies for a lost Sunday. I was never able to get back to my computer yesterday. The combination of my responsibilities to the Georgetown Gilbert & Sullivan Society as it celebrated its 46th year of operation against daunting odds, some pressing client matters and important family matters just overwhelmed my schedule, plus I was wiped out by the early evening. Of course, based on the blog’s traffic this month and the continuing ethics rot, I console my self in the message of the most famous song from “Ruddigore,” GG&SS’s student production for the anniversary…especially the final line…
“This particularly rapid unintelligible patter isn’t generally heard, and if it is, it doesn’t matter.”
Ethics commentary in a nutshell.
2. However: The regulars came through in a pinch. The free swim produced at least four Comment of the Day quality posts, including a history of the Gettysburg address. Thanks everybody. The experiment was a ringing success, and I will have more open forums in the future.
3. This kind of thing is why I have a hard time taking environmentalist doom-saying seriously. We planted Bradford Pear trees, which are now blooming beautifully as is their wont, in front of our house almost 20 years ago. They have their downsides, to be sure, and you have to trim them back or they are likely to split or fall over. However, here is an environmentalist claiming that they are trees from hell, and who writes in part:
If you want to save the world, cut down your Bradford pear trees. I could not be more serious about this… This is my annual “Bashing of the Bradfords” column…If you ever go visit a plant nursery and want to know if it is a good nursery or not, ask if they sell Bradford pears. All reputable nurseries are well aware of the evils of this tree, and refuse to sell them. Don’t let someone talk you into a Cleveland Select or other pear tree, all varieties of “ornamental” pear trees are equally bad.
Save the world. Eliminate Bradford pear trees…
I don’t know who got the idea that that fear-mongering and outrageous hyperbole was an ethical and effective way to persuade, but they were tragically wrong. [See: “The Resistance.”]
4. More fallout on the Kevin Williamson firing:
- Ross Douthat in the New York Times:
A few weeks ago, The Washington Post’s deputy editorial page editor, Ruth Marcus, wrote two columns explaining why had either of her children been diagnosed with Down syndrome in utero, she would have accepted the “ghastly” nature of a second-trimester abortion and terminated the pregnancy. She conceded that people with Down syndrome can be happy and fulfilled, that both they and their parents might be understandably disturbed by the way abortion can effectively cull them from the world. But she concluded with self-acknowledged bluntness: “That was not the child I wanted.”…I regard [people like Marcus] — friends and colleagues and faithful readers — as essentially extremists, for whom the distinctive and sometimes awful burdens that pregnancy imposes on women have become an excuse to build a grotesque legal regime in which the most vulnerable human beings can be vacuumed out or dismembered, killed for reasons of eugenics or convenience or any reason at all…Kevin Williamson, a National Review scribe…was boldly hired by The Atlantic and then quickly jettisoned, after it came to light that he had not only suggested hanging as a penalty for abortion in a since-deleted tweet but also more carefully defended the idea of someday prosecuting women who obtain abortions the way we prosecute other forms of homicide.
…[A] part of me…thinks that this is a case study in exactly the problem establishment editors are trying to address by widening their pool of writers: the inability of contemporary liberalism to see itself from the outside, as it looks to the many people who for some reason, class or religion or historical experience, are not fully indoctrinated into its increasingly incoherent mix of orthodoxies.
By this I mean that my pro-choice friends endorsing Williamson’s sacking can’t see that his extremism is mirrored in their own, in a system of supposedly “moderate” thought that is often blind to the public’s actual opinions on these issues, that lionizes advocates for abortion at any stage of pregnancy, that hands philosophers who favor forms of euthanasia and infanticide prestigious chairs at major universities, that is at best mildly troubled by the quietus of the depressed and disabled in Belgium or the near-eradication of Down syndrome in Iceland or the gendercide that abortion brought to Asia, that increasingly accepts unblinking a world where human beings can be commodified and vivisected so long as they’re in embryonic form…
- Roger Kimball writes in part…
“There are several points to note about this sorry episode of mob hysteria and editorial cowardice. The first is that Williamson would never have been hired at The Atlantic were he not ostentatiously anti-Trump. For a conservative, that political coloration was the sine qua non, the nonnegotiable key to the palace. Alas, as Ann Althouse noted, Williamson “gave them the anti-Trumpism they wanted. But it was not enough.” Ideological conformity on central issues of The Narrative was also required. These he could not supply. …The rancid, totalitarian stench of enforced orthodoxy may be most patent on college campuses today. But the case of Kevin Williamson shows that those toxic plumes are wafting throughout the once-liberal institutions of American society….”
“I think the response to the Left’s purity campaign is to denormalize the institutions they control. Harvard, The Atlantic, etc. need to be treated not as mainstream cultural institutions, but as centers of leftist agitprop pure and simple. Because that’s what they’ve decided to be, and there’s no reason to treat them with the respect an actual mainstream cultural institution enjoys.”
“[H]iring a man away from his job, then firing him for being exactly who you knew he was is simply a skunk thing to do. Shame on [Atlantic editor Jeffrey] Goldberg, really.”
Me: It seems beyond debate at this point that the mainstream Left no longer supports, agrees with or is prepared to accept the American principles of free speech, free thought, free expression, and respect for opposing views. As odious as many Republicans are in many ways, I do not understand how any rational American can rationally give more power to the Democratic Party until it returns to sincere commitment to these core ethical—and democratic— values