Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/14/2019: Talking The Walk, Or Not

Good Morning!

1. Fight racial hate with cognitive dissonance. It is apparent that the Left’s battle plan depends on making sure that minorities hate and fear white people, and it’s up to whites and all the shades lumped in with them—I’m kind of olive colored, or as an old girl friend used to say, “green”—to foil it. It’s simple cognitive dissonance: the more positive experiences minorities have with whites, the more the cognitive dissonance scale works in favor of racial respect and comity.

Yesterday, in a rush, I arrived in the line to pick up my drug refills simultaneously with an African-American man who was probably about my age, and looked pretty grim. I asked him if he wanted to play paper-stone-scissors to see who got to go first. He appeared genuinely startled that I spoke to him, then smiled and told me to go ahead. “You sure? ” I asked. “I really like playing  paper-stone-scissors !” He waved me ahead of him, and I noted that I was rushing to pick up a carry-out order from my favorite Chinese restaurant.

“That’s a good reason to be in a hurry,” he said. I asked him if he liked Chinese food, and he nodded, so I asked if he had eaten at The Peking Gourmet Inn nearby. (It really is the best Chinese eatery in the D.C. area, and except for a little hole in the wall we stumbled into in London, the best I’ve ever encountered.) He hadn’t, so we got in a long conversation about the menu, how to get there, why he really owed it to himself and his family to check it out. I also learned that he and I both favored the same local Thai restaurant. Great guy.

After I got my pills and started to leave, he crossed over to me with his hand outstretched. “Thanks for the tip,” he said, with a big smile. “It was nice talking with you.” “Same here.” I said, as we shook hands.

One down, about a hundred million to go. Of course, if he had been much younger, I never would have been able to talk to him because his eyes would have been glued to smartphone screen….

2. In search of a trustworthy Democratic opponent for President Trump. Apropos of the previous post about the modern Left living in stubborn defiance of reality, the current field of aspiring challengers for the President in 2020 should depress Democrats severely, if they have the courage and integrity to pay attention. Elizabeth Warren is such a flagrant demagogue and hypocrite, it seems impossible that many intelligent and discriminating voters could be fooled by her. Yesterday, she made a run at Hillary Clinton’s all-time record for hilarious lack of self-awareness by a political candidate (set when Bill’s enabler stated solemnly that all victims of sexual assault should be believed) when Warren announced he disgust that anybody would  use misrepresentation to gain an advantage in college applications. Wow.  Meanwhile, one of her competitors, the anti-male bigot Senator Kirsten Gillibrand–you will recall that she championed fake sexual assault victim “Mattress Girl” and shamed Al Franken into leaving the Senate—was trying to explain how and why, when a female staffer reported being harassed by one of the New York Senator’s male aides,  Gillibrand did nothing, and the alleged victim resigned. Her accusations could not be corroborated , she was told. Wait, what? Gillbrand hectored Franken into quitting based on uncorroborated claims. “Mattress Girl,” whom Columbia allowed to stalk and harrass her alleged abuser until an investigation proved that he had done no wrong, was still supported by Gillibrand on the basis that Men Bad, Women Victims. And there was the little matter of her adamant vilification of a certain judge, as the Washington Post’s Mark Theissen sharply pointed out:

Gillibrand was willing to destroy Brett Kavanaugh’s career, and derail his Supreme Court nomination, over uncorroborated allegations, but when a female employee alleged that she was sexually harassed by one of Gillibrand’s closest aides, the senator hid behind a supposed lack of corroboration.

No wonder Joe Biden is getting ready to throw his hat in the ring, but Joe has problems of his own. He has aged shockingly over the past three years. Well, it’s not that shocking, I guess, the man is 76. However, he seems to have none of the energy that was once his hallmark. 76 is too old to run for President, and it’s unethical for anyone to take on such a physically demanding job at that age. Back to Democratic denial: A progressive friend of a Facebook friend wrote, in response to a comment about Biden’s age, that age had absolutely nothing to do with the ability to do a job, and that this was no different from race or gender bias. She then asked, “Does anyone believe that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is too old?” Gee, tough question. She falls asleep on the job: does that count? Of course she’s too old, and so is Biden, who is a full decade younger than she is, and of course, was about half as smart to begin with.

3. Credit where credit is due…to Dick’s. Edward Stack, CEO of Dick’s Sporting Goods, one of the largest firearms retailers in the United States, was especially horrified when 17 people were killed in  the Parkland shooting after he learned that the suspect, Nikolas Cruz, once bought a gun from Dick’s. Although that  firearm was not used in the attack (pure moral luck), Stack resolved to fight against gun violence by directing his company to retreat from selling guns, once a major source of business.

The decision has made Stack and Dick’s pariahs among gun enthusiasts, and sales, profits and Dick’s stock value have suffered. Nevertheless,  Dick’s announced this week  that it would strip firearms and other hunting products from 125 of its stores and replace the merchandise with batting cages, ski apparel and other sports gear.

That’s integrity, something few American corporations have. They blow with the breezes of social media mobs, polls, boycotts and stockholder jitters; the apologize for non-misconduct, good conduct, and misunderstood conduct. The Second Amendment stands for a vital American right, but nothing says that a company has to sell guns. Stack, rightly or wrongly, believes that Dick’s not participating in giving Americans access to guns might save a life or more eventually. I doubt it, but the point is that the CEO is taking action against self-interest for a principle he believes in.

35 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/14/2019: Talking The Walk, Or Not

  1. On 3, if the CEO no longer wanted to be involved in selling guns, he should have resigned rather than impose his moral view on the company. So long as he haves that job his obligation is to his shareholders.

      • Stack is the son of the company founder; he may control too much stock for that to happen. A few years back, the board had to goad him into letting the stores sell handguns as they continued to lose market to Academy, Cabela’s, etc., having already suffered from Stack’s unethical behavior (against both customers and a supplier) of cancelling pre-sold rifle orders just before Christmas in 2012.

        Store employees and managers have long held that Stack is actively anti-gun, really doesn’t care much about anything but golf, and fear they’re turning into just another “shoes, shirts, and sunglasses” “sporting goods” store (Anyone remember Sports Authority?). Several major suppliers of firearms and related accessories have cut them off. Only the most casually unaware firearms owners purchase anything at Dicks now. If there’s a drop in firearms sales at Dick’s, it’s due to Stack, not the market.

        It’s hard to imagine that his actions precipitated anything but a decline in customers. Stack disingenuously claimed that a “strong fourth quarter” proved the worth of his actions (I guess we should assume he’s never heard of the retail value of Black Friday and Christmas). He failed to note that sales and profits were down over the previous year.

  2. Ummm… “Paper-stone-scissors”?? For a person who speaks often of cultural literacy, I think you are the only person I’ve ever heard who calls it anything besides “rock-paper-scissors,” which everyone knows is the correct name of the game. I wonder if your version is a regional variation: in the midwest, it’s RPS. Carry on, Jack. I enjoy reading your blog daily. When I read of the following issue the other day, I hoped you’d pick it up. Here is a link, and the follow-up articles are linked in the first article, including a response from the teacher in question.

    • I wonder how much crossover there is between people who call RPS “Paper-Scissors-Stone” and people who call pop “Soda.”

      • ‘Pop’ is a yankee perversion to call the class of drinks given the proper name, ‘Soda.’ ‘Coke’ has been acceptable the past 25 years, but in Texas we will ask a visitor if they want a ‘Coke’ and then ask them ‘what kind?’

        Oddly enough, there is a section centered around Waco, Texas, where ‘sodas’ are called ‘soda waters.’ I have traveled the nation widely, and have never found another region where this is true. I never heard of a ‘pop’ until such travels.

    • I have only recently heard the game called “rock-paper-scissors.” I learned the name—the right one, by the way, paper-stone -and scissors—on the original Mickey Mouse Club. This version makes sense, because it is the proper hierarchy going left to right.

      I have never in my life called soda “pop” or the regional version in Boston, “tonic.” It’s soda. Mickey called it that too.

      • I’ll reluctantly accept this as long as we can agree that the people who call all forms of soda/pop “coke” regardless of manufacturer or flavor should be sent to reeducation camps.

      • I grew up in Southern California, and it was always “Rock-paper-scissors.” In the San Francisco Bay Area, the game seems to be called “Rochambeau,” a name that otherwise tells you nothing about it.

  3. Interesting addendum to the Dick’s decision, the brand also owns Field & Stream stores that will continue to sell guns (although to nobody under 21)- I’d wager a higher % of F&S customers want guns than the % of Dick’s customers. I wonder how much of this was a principled anti-gun decision and how much of this was a shift to remove guns in favor of items with a higher profit margin among casual sporting-goods shoppers while keeping the guns available to their more dedicated outdoorsmen.

  4. The Second Amendment stands for a vital American right, but nothing says that a company has to sell guns. Stack, rightly or wrongly, believes that Dick’s not participating in giving Americans access to guns might save a life or more eventually. I doubt it, but the point is that the CEO is taking action against self-interest for a principle he believes in.

    This is not the reason Dicks took this action. They raised the age of purchasing rifles from the store to 21 years old, and quit selling “modern sporting rifles” or “assault weapons,” whichever you prefer. I describe them as semiautomatic AR-15 pattern rifles, but whatever. I don’t think Dicks carried much in the way of those to begin with.

    Anyway, Stack made a big deal about doing that, and increased contributions to anti-gun causes. Naturally, the “Second Amendment first!” crowd took offense, and since hunting, camping, and general outdoors types are a large subset of Second Amendment defenders, it cost Dicks business across the board, not just in firearms sales. But the firearms area was by far the hardest hit.

    Note that he’s not removing firearms from all his stores, just from the ones where firearms sales are underperforming. So while I might agree with your comment if he had removed guns from all his stores, the motive here is purely profit-driven, not based on anti-gun violence principles, even if they do intersect in the stores that he’s identified as underperforming.

    So is this really “integrity?” I suppose you can argue it is, but I don’t think so — to me, it’s just a business decision lacking any social underpinnings. A number of firearms manufacturers have already stopped supporting Dicks, along with other manufacturers of peripheral items. For them, this combination of factors has made doing business in firearms less profitable for them and a more visible sign of their rejection of gun rights advocates.

    I don’t care if Dicks sells guns or not, they have a perfect right to sell whatever they want, and say whatever they want. But I’m not buying the “integrity” argument in this case when it comes to firearms sales, because he didn’t go “all in.”

        • Well, I think in this case, it’s a case of virtue signalling Dicks hoped would make money, but backfired. Now they are trying to cut their losses, but I guess they deserve credit for not joining the apology culture.

        • It’s not all that sincere if they’re continuing to sell guns in stores where it’s still profitable to do so.

          Dick’s made a knee-jerk decision to stop selling “scary” rifles in the wake of a mass shooting, and it cost them a lot more business than just selling a few rifles, so they decided to try to spin it to attract more anti-gun customers to replace the pro-gun ones they lost. Time will tell if that works or not (I suspect it won’t. I doubt many people decide where to buy their running shoes or volleyballs based on the store’s stance on the 2nd amendment, but a whole lot of people incorporate that data point when deciding where to buy hunting, fishing, and outdoor gear), but until they stop selling the guns, ammo, and accessories that are making them money (which would probably mean the closing of all their Field & Stream stores), it’s insincere and cynical.

    • Overcomplicated quasi-conspiracy theory:

      Dicks makes comparatively little money from gun sales at their flagship stores (the ones branded “Dicks” rather than “Field & Stream”), with some stores particularly underperforming in gun sales

      Dicks decides to reduce real estate for guns driven by some combination of:
      – desire to replace them with higher-profit merchandise
      – desire to avoid potential liability (legally or in public opinion) for selling a gun used in a mass shooting
      – actual belief that selling guns contributes to crime

      Dicks realizes that reducing or eliminating gun sales will be SEEN as an anti-gun move even if it were 100% profit-based with no regard for gun crimes, bringing down the ire of the NRA and company. They decide to go ahead anyway under the belief that this anger will a) subside and b) be more bark than bite, with more angry words and few actual lost customers

      Dicks realizes that if they emphasize the political side of the gun removal, they won’t get much more hate (since they’d have gotten it no matter what their stated reasons) but will get a lot of approving media coverage that hopefully translates into increased business from anti-gun customers that will help offset the loss of business from protesting pro-gun customers

      End result: Dicks makes two moves in the hopes that the benefits outweigh the costs (removing guns in favor of higher-profit merchandise at the cost of angry gun customers, and virtue-signaling their decision at the cost of already-angry gun customers).

      • This!

        My local Dick’s probably sells less than a dozen firearms a month and they do take up a lot of real estate. The small local gun community prefers more specialized stores. It is a sound business move in some areas, but using it to virtue signal disgusts me. The half-doing it part is the worst; if you’re going to oppose gun sales go full steam ahead and do so everywhere, not only where they’re failing to make money.

      • Interesting.

        Just as an aside, Dicks pricing on firearms is typical retail pricing. You can get the same guns many other places for substantially less. Why people buy firearms in places like Dicks is beyond me, but I can see why Field and Stream stores would want to hold on to them. Sort of a “one stop shopping” kind of thinking.

  5. 1. Fight racial hate with cognitive dissonance.

    George Yancy would laugh cynically at your description of the drugstore encounter. He would call this a manifestation of ‘white innocence’ . . .

    Quotes from Backlash by George Yancy:

    “Paul Waldman writes: As a white person, I’ll continue to enjoy this [white] privilege almost no matter who I am or what I do. In my heart I could be the most kind-hearted humanitarian or the most vile sociopath. I could be assiduously law-abiding or a serial killer. I can dress in a suit or in torn jeans and a hoodie, and no one will react to me with fear or suspicion, because if they don’t know me they will assume they know nothing. I am myself, nothing more or less. That’s privilege.”

    “Take a deep breath. Don’t tell me about how many black friends you have. Don’t tell me that you are married to someone of color. Don’t tell me that you voted for Obama. Don’t tell me that I’m the racist. Don’t tell me that you don’t see color. Don’t tell me that I’m blaming whites for everything. To do so is to hide yet again. You may have never used the N-word in your life, you may hate the K.K.K., but that does not mean that you don’t harbor racism and benefit from racism. After all, you are part of a system that allows you to walk into stores where you are not followed, where you get to go for a bank loan and your skin does not count against you, where you don’t need to engage in “the talk” that black people and people of color must tell their children when they are confronted by white police officers.”

    “I can see your anger. I can see that this letter is being misunderstood. This letter is not asking you to feel bad about yourself, to wallow in guilt. That is too easy. I’m asking for you to tarry, to linger, with the ways in which you perpetuate a racist society, the ways in which you are racist. I’m now daring you to face a racist history which, paraphrasing Baldwin, has placed you where you are and that has formed your own racism. Again, in the spirit of Baldwin, I am asking you to enter into battle with your white self. I’m asking that you open yourself up; to speak to, to admit to, the racist poison that is inside of you.”

    Multiply these quotes by 130 pages . . .

      • While it is true that even those who reviewed the book who like it and think it important also mention that it is repetitive, in my view it and numerous other books written by progressives should be read. Must be read. Well, I will read them anyway . . .

        (((Semitism))) by Jonathan Weiner in order to understand the viewpoint of a partially assimilated progressive Jew in America today (and one linked to the media establishment, and the NY Intellectual Establishment). In order to understand their own deep conflict with Zionism but also their own connection with the ‘radical sectors’ in American politics.

        Dangerous Minds: Nietzsche, Heidegger, and the Return of the Far Right by Ronald Beiner is similar, but goes into the ideological background of the Extreme Right and the New Right. Without at the least some grasp of Nietzschean ideas — I humbly suggest — it would be very difficult to understand the present very well.

        Backlash is in my view 100% essential in order to understand the Black reaction, Black resentment, bubbling and dangerous Black rage that is showing itself and will not abate.

        I know (or believe I know) how you-all react to this material: you are American Conservatives and you prefer to pretend that what is happening is not happening and will pass. It won’t.

        Therefore, I have resolved myself to do the work that you won’t do!

        • When you’ve completed this 100 % essential due diligence, heck, even once you’ve rounded third base & are headed for home, be a mensch and share your findings with the great unwashed.

          It’ll earn you a chip in the Big Game

              • I see your point but I think you are exaggerating somewhat. Slickwilly tells me that, essentially, *you-plural* cannot be reached and that one must modify one’s delivery-method, as if spooning down some pablum. Sad, but it seems true. OK! I have seen the light! From now on: Baby-food only! 🙂

                • Slight correction (speak of the adversary and he will appear!) 🙂

                  I said that miles of text that circle endlessly are not effective in reaching your audience here at EA. (Note: Condescension is also a really great way to persuade your audience: ask the Democrats!)

                  You be you, Alizia. Just don’t expect to persuade many using these tactics.

                  (Still luv ya like a sister!)

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