1. This belongs in the “Bias Makes You Stupid” Hall Of Fame. [ Note of Correction: the story is two years old, dating from March, 2017. It was represented by my source as current, and I didn’t check the date on the link. My error. It changes nothing in the ethics commentary, however. ]
Three Oklahoma teenagers broke into a home last week and were greeted by a homeowner with an AR-15. He mowed them down, as he had every legal right to do, and may I say, “Good!” This is the perfect reason why someone might want to have the security of a semi-automatic weapon like the AR-15. This is a good example of why the “nobody needs a semi-automatic” is such a fatuous anti-gun argument. This homeowner needed one when three people tried to invade his home.
But I digress. The grandfather of one of the dead teenagers is protesting that it wasn’t a fair fight, telling KTUL-TV:
“What these three boys did was stupid. They knew they could be punished for it but they did not deserve to die…Brass knuckles against an AR-15? C’mon. Who was afraid for their life? There’s got to be a limit to that law, I mean he shot all three of them — there was no need for that.”
Ah, yes, that word “need” again. I guess he should have knee-capped one, winged another in the shoulder, and counted on the third to surrender in tears. How was the homeowner supposed to know the kids “only” had brass knuckles with them—which are a potentially deadly weapon anyway? Yeah, the old man is just blathering away in grief, but then most anti-gun rhetoric comes out of emotion rather than logic. I’m sure the grandfather would also argue that it would have been preferable for the homeowner to get beaten to death rather than for three young men with their whole lives ahead of them to be killed.
Side note: Getaway driver, 21-year-old Elizabeth Rodriguez was arrested and charged with three counts of first-degree murder, along with one count of first-degree burglary and one count of second-degree burglary. That’s how felony murder works. No, I don’t feel sorry for her, either.
2. Today’s Jussie Smollett hoax item. Stop making me defend Van Jones! CNN’s dapper race-baiter is getting criticized for calling Jussie an icon in this quote:
“This is the fall of an icon and I don’t think people understand how important he has been in the black community. ‘Empire’ as a show, to have him as a beloved character, I think did a great deal to knock back homophobia in the black community. The fact that he has been celebrated and you see homophobia in the black community through his eyes on the show, this is a Jackie Robinson against homophobia.”
Writes Hollywood conservative columnist Christian Toto: “Jones just served up arguably the worst “take” on the Jussie Smollett hoax story…You almost have to read it twice to appreciate the absurdity of the comparison. If Jones, brighter than the average pundit, can sink this low, it speaks poorly of the pundit class in toto.”
I think Jones is generally a blight on TV punditry, but there is nothing inappropriate about his observation. There is a lot of homophobia in the black culture, and Smollett had begun to loosen its grip by playing a popular, likable, admirable gay character on a one of the most popular TV shows with gay audiences. Sure, the Jackie Robinson comparison is excessive, but I get his meaning. The implication of what Jones is says is that as a figure who was more than just another actor because of his symbolic effect, Smollett had an obligation to protect his status and image. Jones wasn’t excusing Smollett at all.
3. “Uncle Sam wants you, sister!” A Texas judge ruled last week that the Selective Service System violates the Constitution by requiring only men to register for the draft. The court ruled for the National Coalition for Men who had argued in a lawsuit a male-only draft constitutes discrimination and violates the Due Process clause as well as the Equal Protection Clause. “This case balances on the tension between the constitutionally enshrined power of Congress to raise armies and the constitutional mandate that no person be denied the equal protection of the law,” wrote U.S. District Judge Gray Miller of the Southern District of Texas.
The government relied on a 1981 U.S. Supreme Court decision that the Military Selective Service Act was constitutional, but Judge Miller found that the case no longer is applicable, since the Department of Defense lifted all gender-based restrictions on military service in 2015.
I don’t see how this decision could have been avoided. It’s also just symbolic at this point, since there is no draft, just a registration requirement. But really, why shouldn’t she be eligible for the draft?
4. The Time Square Kiss, redux. George Mendonsa, generally believed to be the sailor in the iconic V-J Day photo below…
It seems pretty clear, then, that what George had committed would be considered sexual assault by modern standards. Yet, in an amazing feat of willful blindness, none of the articles comment on this, even as they reproduce Greta’s words for us. Without a single acknowledgement of the problematic nature of the photo that her comments reveal, they continue to talk about the picture in a whimsical, reverent manner, “still mesmerized by his timeless kiss.” George’s actions are romanticized and glorified; it is almost as if Greta had never spoken.
… The fact that this much-loved photo is a depiction of sexual assault, rather than passion, is an uncomfortable truth…The unwillingness to recognize a problem here is not surprising, considering the rape culture in which we live. It is not easy to assert that a woman’s body is always her own, not to be used at the whim of any man without her consent. It is far easier to turn a blind eye to the feelings of women, to claim that they should empathize with the man, that they should be good sports and just go along with it.
Inconveniently, Greta Z. Friedman (she was eventually recognized as the kissee, though similar scenes with different participants unquestionable occurred that day) HAS spoken, and she it is clear that the kiss wasn’t unwelcome:
“Well, I think he was the one who made me famous, because he took the action. I was just the bystander. So, I think he deserves a lot of credit. Actually, by the photographer creating something that was very symbolic at the end of a bad period…it was a wonderful coincidence a man in a sailor’s uniform and a woman in a white dress… and a great photographer at the right time.”
I wrote about the issue during another outbreak of feminist attacks on the photo, calling such positions
…a symptom of the scourge of pernicious, political-correctness zealots, who refuse to recognize the important distinctions between malice and human beings being human, and seek to wipe out that distinction by distortion, sophistry, historical revisionism and bullying.
Yeah, I was ticked off. The Times Square Kiss is the perfect embodiment of the Ethics Incompleteness Principle, which states that there will always be exceptions to even the best reasoned and most established ethics rules, because rules can’t be written or imagined that will apply in every situation. Yes—999,999,999 times out of a billion, grabbing strangers and kissing them is very wrong, indeed criminal. That kiss was the exception.
I continued in part,
I guess [none of these people] have had the experience of being in a large group of people when something wonderful that touches all of them occurs. I have, a few times. I experienced this in Boston, outside Fenway Park, when Carlton Fisk sent us all home with his famous 12th inning home run off the foul pole, to keep the Red Sox alive in the 1975 World Series. Everybody was spontaneously hugging and kissing and dancing with everybody. A young woman I had never seen before and never would again ran up to me and kissed me on the lips, yelled “PUDGE!!!” (Fisk’s nickname), and ran into the chaos. Sexual assault? Rape culture?
I was also with my Dad when they dedicated the World War Two Memorial on the National Mall, and invited living veterans of the war, like him, to be the honored guests. I saw old men spontaneously spin strangers around and give them bear hugs, pats and kisses—technically battery, every one. I saw one honoree kiss a survivor of the Bataan Death March spontaneously on the cheek, as he wept. Sexual assault?
There are times in our lives, if we are fortunate, when our hearts are so filled with joy, and we so want to share it, that inhibitions and social customs break down, and all that matters is two human beings, feeling the same thing. There was nothing sexual in that sailor’s kiss, or aggressive, or malign, or anything but an expression of pure joy that comes only once in a lifetime, if that. And while the moment may have been involuntary for Greta, it was not unpleasant, because she understood…she felt the same way. She wouldn’t have traded that moment for anything, and, obviously, she remembered it for the rest of her life, a moment that didn’t stand for the imposition of a “rape culture” on her life, but instead was the climax of a joyful day, the day the world was finally at peace.
I’d recommend the short but intense exchanges in the comments to that post, especially the debate between me and “Danielle,” who left us at the end of 2016. It features a typical retort by the much-missed and legendary tgt, and reminds me that “walrus,” another valued commenter, last commented during the Presidential campaign. I hope he hasn’t been poached for his ivory.