Ethics Warm-Up, Memorial Day, 5/28/18: Things That Don’t Mix

1. Let’s start with some non-traditional casting hypocrisy.

  • Example A: In “The Gentleman Caller,” an Off-Broadway drama by Phillip Dawkins, an imagined romantic interlude between famously gay Fifties playwrights Tennessee Williams and William Inge has been cast with a Hispanic, and Hispanic-looking, actor as the very un-Hispanic Williams, and an Asian-American actor as the quite Caucasian Inge. This is self-indulgent grandstanding by the director that doesn’t serve the play—that’s the director’s duty, to serve the play—and the playwright was a fool to allow it. If the drama was just about two gay playwrights, it wouldn’t matter who was cast to portray them, or what the actors looked like. The identity of the writers is important to this  drama, however. You don’t cast a short, bald man as Abraham Lincoln, and you don’t cast a fat, flat-chested woman as Marilyn Monroe unless you are actively trying to sabotage the play. The New York Times critic didn’t have the integrity to point out the reverse-whitewashing casting-–mustn’t criticize fellow social justice warriors, you know!—but the stunt is both incompetent and discriminatory.

If a director cast an Irish-American and an Italian-American as James Baldwin and Richard Wright in a similar play, he would be excoriated, and rightly so.

  • Example B. Jim Parsons, best known as aging nerd Sheldon in “Big Bang Theory” and now starring on Broadway in the ensemble revival of “The Boys in the Band,” told the New York Times in an interview that the producer insisted that everyone in the cast be gay. Nice. Gay actors have been insisting forever that their sexuality was no bar to their playing straight characters—this is true, if they are any good as actors—but apparently reverse discrimination is fine.  It’s not fine. It’s bigotry.

When my late, lamented theater company revived that play almost 20 years ago, the director, John Moran, himself gay, insisted that the sexual orientation of the actors who auditioned would play no part in his casting decisions, and it did not. I think most of the all-male cast was not gay, but all of them were (and are) excellent.

One of my favorite Clarence Darrow quotes is, “I’m for the underdog. He needs friends a damn sight more than the other fellow. The best fun in life is to fight for the underdog…If the underdog got on top he would probably be just as rotten as the upper dog, but in the meantime I am for him.”

Things that don’t mix: Anti-discrimination rhetoric and discrimination

2. Another “good illegal immigrant” story. Guatemalan woman Gomez Gonzalez was shot to death in a border incident as she tried to enter the U.S. illegally. The episode is under investigation, and the facts are murky: the border patrol claims that she was in a crowd of people trying to cross the border illegally that became threatening and violent.  Here is how CNN begins its account of the controversy:

“Claudia Patricia Gomez Gonzalez traveled 1,500 miles to the United States, hoping to find a job and a better future. Shortly after she set foot in Texas, a Border Patrol agent shot and killed her.”

No bias there! It is absolutely irrelevant to the legal and ethical issues here why Gonzalez was entering the country illegally. She did not deserve to be shot under any circumstances, and she was no more justified in violating our immigration laws whether her objective was to find a “better future” or to open a meth lab. The news media insists on sentimentalizing what is a black and white issue of sovereignty, law-breaking and enforcement, with the intent of confusing the public and demonizing opponents of illegal immigration.

Things that don’t mix: Lawbreaking and status as a virtuous martyr

3. Did you hear the one about the Truther pitcher? This is weird as it gets.Cleveland Indians pitcher Trevor Bauer appeared to carve “BD 911” into the pitching mound during a game, which many read as a short-hand way of asserting that “Bush Did” the 9-11 bombings. Bauer was shocked—shocked! that anyone would think such a thing, and responded angrily on Twitter:

Checked Twitter to see a bunch of people making ridiculous accusations.
1) I wrote BD 91.1 on the mound. It’s a personal thing of importance to me.2) it’s completely unrelated to the senseless tragedy we endured on September 11 and it pisses me off that anyone would think that.3) Shame on anyone who says otherwise. Unfounded accusations like these are very hurtful and completely uncalled for.

Completely uncalled for? How often do pitchers write crypic messages on the pitching mound? I’ve been watching games for decades, and I’ve never seen it before. If you do something strange and without explanation, it is reasonable to expect that observers will speculate on your intent.

Later, Bauer said that what he really carved was “BD 91.1,” not “BD 911.” Oh. Did he go on to explain what his real meaning was? Oddly, no. Did he explain why he was suddenly moved to start writing messages while he was pitching? Also no. Do you believe him? Here’s his artwork:

Things that don’t mix: Baseball and Truthers.

4. I know I sound like a broken record ( “what’s a record?”), but liberals should be as troubled by this as conservatives. Paul  Caron, Dean of Pepperdine University School of Law, passed along via his blog an article by a recent Stanford Law grad in The National Review,  Political Correctness at Stanford Law, by Martin  J. Salvucci (J.D. 2018, Stanford).  An excerpt:

At Stanford Law School, no more than three of approximately 110 full-time faculty publicly identify as conservative or libertarian. (By way of contrast, Stanford Law School touts on its webpage 23 full-time faculty under the inartful rubric of “minority.”) As a consequence, many of my classmates will graduate having never engaged with a law professor whose worldview and convictions track those of nearly half the voting public.

It would require nothing less than willful blindness to presume this state of play does not affect the education that students receive. Probably for obvious reasons, my classmates demonstrate little willingness to identify publicly with anything associated with conservatism or, God forbid, President Trump, no matter how trivial. By way of extraordinary example, the Law School Republicans will soon cease to exist as a student organization because — after a campaign of intimidation and opprobrium — not one underclassman would volunteer to serve on its board next academic year.

An almost unspoken agreement seems to exist among many students that all of us will soon be fabulously successful, so long as everyone remains a “team player” and nobody rocks the boat too earnestly. Political, moral, and religious convictions are, for the most part, accessories best deployed for instrumental purposes, rather than values to be espoused or explored for their own sake. In much the same manner that all respectable people may speak or dress or eat a certain way, students at Stanford Law School have come to believe — and not entirely without reason, given their surroundings — that all respectable people should think the same way. …

For the past two years, I have repeatedly beseeched the dean of Stanford Law School to follow the example set by the leaders of my undergraduate alma mater — the University of Chicago — and publicly affirm the centrality of viewpoint diversity to the aims of education. Each time, she has refused, citing squeamishness at the prospect of overstepping her portfolio. Yet during that same period, she has nonetheless offered schoolwide commentary on public topics as diverse as the violence in Charlottesville, the rescission of DACA, and the Trump administration’s efforts to ban transgender individuals from military service.

Beyond the Office of the Dean, Stanford Law School has staged programs aimed at helping students to #resist more effectively, celebrating International Workers’ Day and offering advice on “progressive lawyering” in the Trump era. Professors have sent schoolwide emails condemning anyone who supported President Trump as either an outright racist or an enabler who is #complicit. One professor even saw fit to join a student/alumni Facebook group for the purposes of criticizing the Law School Republicans. …

Stanford Law School is organized, at least theoretically, as a professional school. And students gamely pay nearly $100,000 per year for the promise that they’ll receive an education that ensures their place within the ranks of America’s finest advocates. Of course, they actually receive something closer to three years of self-affirmation, navel-gazing, and a variety of more or less amusing games played by consenting intellectual adults. Genuine advocacy, by contrast, requires resolution of conflicts through adversarial engagement with mutually exclusive perspectives….

What is a fair description of the American who views what Salvucci describes as a positive development for the country and the culture?

Things that don’t mix: Legal training and enforced ideological conformity.

33 Comments

Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Arts & Entertainment, Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Sports, U.S. Society, Workplace

33 responses to “Ethics Warm-Up, Memorial Day, 5/28/18: Things That Don’t Mix

  1. Other Bill

    I’m pretty sure the Diamondbacks gave up on super high draft pick Trevor Bauer because they thought he was an irredeemable nut case. Of course, they traded away Max Scherzer too. Sigh.

  2. 3. It would be very odd for a Truther to actually write that out. “Bush did 9/11” Isn’t actually a commonly used Truther phrase, it’s a commonly used phrase by people mocking Truthers. I mean, I suppose it’s possible…. Truthers aren’t exactly famous for a logical thought process, just really… really odd.

    http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/bush-did-911

    • Indeed. But what else was he doing, if not that? And why at Wrigley Field?

      • No clue. When he said it was “BD 91.1” I thought maybe something important happened in January of ’91, or maybe he was jockeying for a bit on a local radio station. Whatever message he was trying to send, I think we can all agree it was botched.

        I mean…. There’s two possibilities; He’s lying, and he’s a truther trying to covertly send a message, or trying to covertly make fun of truthers on a big platform… Both of which are unethical, if in different ways. Or he’s telling the truth, he probably didn’t even know what BD911 meant (and full disclosure, I didn’t before this morning) and whatever he was trying to signal backfired spectacularly, because it was unclear… Which is still unethical in several ways. The best lesson learned here might be: “Don’t carve personal messages into the GD pitcher’s mound, you pleb.”

  3. “Claudia Patricia Gomez Gonzalez traveled 1,500 miles to the United States, hoping to find a job and a better future. Shortly after she set foot in Texas, a Border Patrol agent shot and killed her.”

    So if this shooting was wrongful, should President Trump be liable?

  4. E2

    “Of course, they actually receive something closer to three years of self-affirmation, navel-gazing, and a variety of more or less amusing games played by consenting intellectual adults. Genuine advocacy, by contrast, requires resolution of conflicts through adversarial engagement with mutually exclusive perspectives….” (Martin Salvucci)

    This starts way before law school, as we all know. Little is taught — from elementary school onward — but leftist historical interpretation, liberal cant, and hatred of anything conservative. My son survived this — because he refused it — and is an independent thinker only because he was able to. Today’s education is positively Stalinesque: and if you don’t know the quote, look it up, moron.

    • Unless your wife teaches at a very conservative school with your kids, and you make an effort to counter the BS every time you find it (pay attention to what the kids are told, hold discussions with them: you know, be involved…) you will not be able to salvage the rational thinking ability of your children.

      This makes later life very hard for them, when they have to discover on their own that everything they ‘know’ is just not so…

      Chris was fighting this fight (and kudos, as he did, at times, listen and learn) before he self exiled.

      I fear he lost that fight. Introspection is HARD.

  5. Steve-O-in-NJ

    #2. Lawbreaking and status as a virtuous martyr. Believe me, Jack, I am the first one to say that lawbreaking and being virtuous don’t go together. If the law is accorded no deference at all, then a society sets itself up for chaos. I also believe that borders are one of those legalities that have to be strictly respected, because if they are not, then they cease to have any meaning at all.

    That said, the value of respect for both law and law enforcement has, like the value of patriotism, become associated primarily with the right. Once in a while you will see the occasional abortion clinic shooter who proclaims himself “a warrior for the babies” or the odd white separatist who seeks to become a law unto himself in a sparsely populated wilderness, but, the majority of folks on the right are 100% behind the badges, though there may be legal/managerial disagreements as to which badgeholder should have what powers and which should be predominant.

    The idea that lawbreaking is virtuous is predominantly found on the political left. Oh, sure, we all heard the story as kids about how Robin Hood stole from the rich to give to the poor, and duly cheered our hero in Lincoln Green on, but those of us who didn’t go left politically either moved on from the story once we got old enough to play sports or understood it was as much about political conflict as “sheriff bad, outlaw good” and that idea didn’t work in the real world. It’s those who went left who embraced the Pancho Villas and the Lenins, who tore down governments and murdered those who got in their way, the Amiri Barakas and Saul Alinskys. who embraced being an asshole, a thug, and a criminal, because the system was just too bad to work within, and the Phil Berrigans and Ammon Hennacys, who rejected government itself as immoral and thought they could set themselves outside it.

    It’s logical progression that those who would hold up figures like that as heroes rather than the criminals and tyrants they really were (even the pacifistic Berrigan and Hennacy were tyrannical in that they set up their own little cults of personality within the anti-governmental movement and didn’t tolerate those who thought differently) would think that it was perfectly all right for someone to cross an arbitrary border keeping them from a better life, or topple a statue of someone they found objectionable, or kill a public official they found to be oppressive.

    The left are frankly the epitome of what used to be the days of TSR’s nine-alignment system for determining character’s morality, what was termed neutral evil – those who work always for their own ends, working within the law as long as they can use it to their own ends, but just as willing to work around it when they can’t. Virtuous? Don’t make me sneer.

    • The left are frankly the epitome of what used to be the days of TSR’s nine-alignment system for determining character’s morality, what was termed neutral evil – those who work always for their own ends, working within the law as long as they can use it to their own ends, but just as willing to work around it when they can’t.

      Great comment, and pinpoints something I have been noticing about the ‘ends justify the means’ progressives: neutral evil.

      I have been wondering how many have been shifting further into ‘evil’ for its own sake, given the resistance movement and the stances taken by many of them? Support Hamas? MS-13?

  6. Aleksei

    I am unaware of the signage at the border fence. I think it would not be untenable, if there was proper signage and warning at the border, that border gaurds would open fire at a certain distance. Not to sound cynical, but people didn’t attempt to cross the FRG-GDR border willy-nilly. They knew that they would risk getting shot. If you get 3 meals and a cot for illegally crossing the US border, that’s basically an invitation. If the premise that borders are sacred is to be believed, then the option of shooting after repeated verbal warnings, etc should be on the table. Otherwise, it’s just not serious.

    • “We randomly strafe the border using aircraft to high for you to see. Random strafing can be triggered by actual sightings.”

      “This border is an active artillery and bomb range. Not responsible for body part removed during drills”

      What a sign!

    • Aleksei wrote, “If the premise that borders are sacred is to be believed, then the option of shooting after repeated verbal warnings, etc should be on the table.”

      We do not shoot people just for breaking our laws! This ridiculous suggestion should never be on the table unless we are being physically attacked and/or being invaded by an armed army.

      Give them some water, don’t feed them, don’t house them, throw them in the back of a patty wagon and immediately drive them to the nearest border crossing and deport them straight across border from whence they came without a hearing is far better than the nonsense suggested above.

      • Calm down, Z. At least in my case, the suggestion was facetious at best.

        I took Al’s comment in that vein, and ran with it.

        • slickwilly wrote, “Calm down, Z. At least in my case, the suggestion was facetious at best. I took Al’s comment in that vein, and ran with it.”

          It didn’t appear to me that Aleksei was being facetious, I’ve heard arguments like that before.

          I knew exactly what you were doing, that why my comment wasn’t about your reply. 🙂

        • After rereading my comment above I guess my last sentence could have been taken to include your comment, that wasn’t the intent.

      • Aleksei

        Zoltar, we do shoot people for breaking laws in some specific cases. From my limited search on the subject, if you trespass a military base, for an example, after repeated warnings to stop and comply with the guard’s instructions, if you continue to move towards them, they are authorized to use deadly force. Not terribly unreasonable.
        I am not suggesting indiscriminate shooting at anything that happens to move at the border.

        • Aleksei wrote, “Zoltar, we do shoot people for breaking laws in some specific cases. From my limited search on the subject, if you trespass a military base, for an example, after repeated warnings to stop and comply with the guard’s instructions, if you continue to move towards them, they are authorized to use deadly force.”

          The United States of America is not a military base or post and just because they are “authorized” doesn’t mean that they shoot.

          I have some personal experience with this years ago in the Army and more “recently” my son-in-law was an guard as part of the final line of defense at a highly secured area within a larger military base and even there they don’t just shoot unarmed intruding individuals after warnings unless they appear to be a clear and present danger and there appears to be no other option. They’ve actually had some really nut-cases that were completely naked and a few tree huggers breach the outer security and get taken down without a single shot by the security forces in the final line of defense.

          • Aleksei

            Zoltar, thank you for sharing your experiences with this topic. Very elucidating! I would support the policy you have presented, which is “they don’t just shoot unarmed intruding individuals after warnings unless they appear to be a clear and present danger and there appears to be no other option.” I would guess that’s probably a policy already. I’ll have to read about this Specific shooting case to get more context and what guidelines border patrol uses in general.

            • Aleksei,
              FYI: This particular shooting case wasn’t actually at the border. The illegal immigrant was part of a crowd of people in a US border town that was advancing on a border guard and not following instructions to stop. I’m sure we’ll hear more about it after the investigation is concluded.

  7. #2 I’m not going to comment one way or the other on the shooting, I don’t have all the facts.

    I’m weary of this illegal immigration issue and that is causing some real anger about it.

    Claudia Patricia Gomez Gonzalez and many like her travel 1,500 miles through Mexico to get to the USA southern border and Mexico does nothing to stop them or send them back to their country of origin. Is Mexico turning a blind eye to these people illegally in their country or are they giving them some kind of special status to pass through their country legally?

    If we want the Mexican government to take this illegal immigration problem and for that matter illegal drug trafficking seriously then we have to hit them in their wallet.

    I’m beginning to think that the USA should stop all federal aid to Mexico until the government in Mexico makes significant and verifiable efforts to stop the flow of illegal immigrants that freely pass through their country on their way to the USA southern border and become illegal immigrants in the USA – the same goes for illegal drugs. The USA aid previously sent to Mexico can be used to build the wall. I’d even consider ceasing the transfer of dollars from banks physically in the USA to banks physically in Mexico which would seriously impact or cease cross border trade.

    Deport all illegal immigrants that are not actively in the process of becoming legal citizens of the USA regardless of their nationality – period – no exceptions! Make it nearly impossible for an illegal immigrant to live in the USA. No illegal immigrants get any federal aid dollars, not one red cent. No illegal immigrants get jobs, huge fines and/or jail time for those that hire them. No illegal immigrants get government issued ID’s of any kind by any federal, state, or local governments. No illegal immigrants can rent or buy a place to live. Note: I have no problem with legal immigration, it’s the illegal immigration that’s the problem – don’t conflate the issues in any way.

    Our border with Mexico has been, and still is, a real problem. Illegal drugs, illegal guns, illegal human trafficking, illegal money laundering, illegal smuggling, etc; all manner of illegal activity is transpiring across that border, and it needs to stop.

    • ”Is Mexico turning a blind eye to these people illegally in their country or are they giving them some kind of special status to pass through their country legally?”

      Could be. What do you suppose the Mexican Gendarmerie’s first reaction might be to an American with means being caught there illegally or in violation of any of their laws, i.e. with a bag of weed?

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