Sunday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2/23/19: “Spring Training Games Have Started, So NOTHING Can Upset Me Today” Edition [UPDATED]

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…

…died this month. Predictably, focus on the photo provoked another outbreak of this kind of reaction from feminist and political correctness commentators.

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.

27 thoughts on “Sunday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2/23/19: “Spring Training Games Have Started, So NOTHING Can Upset Me Today” Edition [UPDATED]

  1. On the issue of selective service registration requirements:
    Many will say that the issue is moot because we do not have a draft. However, males that fail to register by age 26 lose any eligibility for Federal education benefits as well as eligibility for federal employment for life.
    I am glad that this issue has been challenged successfully in the courts. The question then becomes how will the court enforce its ruling.

  2. Side Note

    As regards the robbery kids: They wore all black, gloves and masks. They should have had the words Just Kids! in white on their front.

    The girl who was to drive the car went to the police voluntarily herself saying she had *important information* about the incident. She told them what had been planned, and they arrested her.

    I guess that goes in the *don’t ever talk to the police* file!

    • I remember this story, it being somewhat local (Oklahoma is next door to Texas) so the story got a bit of play here.

      The girl drove the kids miles out into the country for the express purpose of a home invasion. There were overtones of racial animus, as a rural white area was chosen for the crime when the urban area they drove from was minority. The girl went to the police to report the homeowner in hopes of getting him arrested for daring to protect himself.

      In doing so, she incriminated herself and exonerated the homeowner, who was never in real danger of prosecution anyway, except in the court of public opinion. Even public opinion supported him after her story.

      Still agree that ‘don’t talk to police’ is the only rational policy, given my discussions with detectives and officers. They explain that in big city police departments the culture is such that any arrest is success. Their job is to catch bad guys, and catching one moves the case along. They can stop investigating when they have arrested someone, and that someone might as well be you, for all they care.

      Sad but true.

  3. As my former Navy SF son once wisely told me, don’t buy, train to use and subsequently point a loaded weapon at anything you do not intend to kill. If you are in a circumstance where you must point a loaded weapon at someone(s) or something, aim as best you can and pull the trigger as often as you can until it or they are not moving. Seems clear enough.

    This from a young man whose Riverine unit was attacked via IED in southern Iraq trailering their boats and, though they could have shot everyone in sight, shot exactly no one.

    • So the uncle complains that it wasn’t a fair fight. A most important rule for those who might find themselves in a gunfight is,,,, If you find yourself in a fair fight you planned poorly.

      So many lessons here. Three on one are pretty good odds for the 3, unless the one has a gun. And what difference does it make that that the guy had an AR? Would people be happier if he killed them with a shotgun? semi-auto pistol? revolver?

  4. Anybody who confronts three masked intruders in his home and doesn’t fear for his life is either a fool or has a raccoon infestation.

      • They are also smart as hell. A friend of mine stood in his kitchen and watched while a mama ‘coon (can I say that? I put an apostrophe in front, see!) spent ten minutes demonstrating for her two young uns and making them practice how to get in and out of the dog door. She was starting on Lesson Two — raiding the cupboard under the sink where the chow was kept (she put both paws on the knob and pulled back) when he picked up a mop and started swinging. After he finished nailing the dog door shut behind them, he had a long talk with his labs who were unhappy about their curtailed freedom but had also had a good stiff sniff of the intruders and never made a complaint afterwards. A few days later he and some other raided neighbors got together and saw that the ACO picked up the family and “relocated” them (so he said). Apparently the last straw was a woman around the corner who woke up when the dish holding the remains of her bedtime snack was edged off the night-stand and broke. As the story goes from there: she started to get out of bed and thought better of it when she noticed the bandit standing her (or his?) ground and eyeing her toes.

  5. “It features a typical retort by the much-missed and legendary tgt

    TGT was no legend, other than for being the Prince of Pedantry. There was a time early on where I respected him for applying logic against illogical positions and attacking double-standards. But somewhere along the line he became a full-on leftist advocating some of the same positions he’d previously attacked and started using his mastery of logic to present logical-sounding bullshit instead.

    I don’t miss him at all.


      • I miss tgt. Yes, he was (I assume still is) an opinionated sonofaTexan and he had his blind spots, and at least one area of ignorance (non-political). He made me get up on my hind legs and debate rather than argue with him, and his attitude, if not exactly friendly, showed respect. He had an enviable way with words and a trigger-quick wit. I usually found him pretty far over on my right, but then I always have preferred the Chinese menu myself. Of course for all I know, he was just honing his skills.

  6. Re: No. 2; The Jussie Smollett Affair;

    Jack wrote:

    “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,” in response to this comment by Van Jones:

    “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.”

    Is it true? Is/Was Smollett really a trailblazer? Was Smollett knocking back Black community animosity toward gays? I know we are supposed to revere and acknowledge (or is that acknowledge and revere?) the sexual orientations of any non-binary cisgendered human being, and celebrate their struggles and strengths and choices and . . . but, really. Does this matter any more? As I stated in an earlier post, I am a Philistine because I simply don’t care and refuse to muster any amount of concern for what people do and with whom and where.

    I suggest, though, that Smollett he is not such a trailblazer, his influence in the Black community is not that important, and his role as a gay rapper on “Empire” was not that significant. For starters, here are some openly gay Black performers: Robin Roberts, Raven-Symoné, Wanda Sykes, Laverne Cox, Amandla Stenberg, Darren Young,Sylvester James, Billy Strayhorn, Josephine Baker, Bessie Smith, RuPaul, Frankie Knuckles (great name, by the way), Labi Siffre, Little Richard, Tracy Chapman, Johnny Mathis, Billie Holiday, Darren Young, and Sister Rosetta Tharpe, just to name a few; all of these performers preceded Smollett and have had much more impact on Black culture. Smollett will simply be a blip on the Hollywood radar and will fade into an ignoble past. Sorry.*


    *Ed. Note: Will someone please stop this poster? Dear God! What a Philistine. Take his computer away and reeducate him. What a silly, silly person.

    • From what I understand from the gay black people I know (who are still speaking to me …. a lot fewer than pre-Trump), Smolett was more than a blip (on the good side) and his stupidity – that’s the most polite word used – has made him a blimp-size target for a ton of disappointment, anger and bursts of hate. The higher he rose – I’m not sure if it was Smolett or the role, but he was definitely helping — the harder he fell… and they feel he took them down with him. The black community is still sensitive about anything “whitey” finds unacceptable when it turns up in their own backyard (which reminds me, I owe Mrs. Q a response concerning a bigger black icon than Jussie could ever be. Where are you, Mrs. Q?). Nobody I know is making excuses for him.

      JB, most of those you mentioned were not anywhere near “out” in their lifetimes or indeed until long after their deaths, and in any case, while they might be a major part of black history, that has as much to do with young rapper fans’ day-to-day admiration and popularity as Randolph Scott, Greta Garbo, Raymond Burr, Dave Kopay, Florence Nightingale, Robert Reed, or Leonard Matlovitch. Wanda Sykes maybe.

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