Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/15/2019: Patriots Day! Jackie Robinson Day!

Good morning!

It’s funny: over at Ann Althouse’s blog, she’s complaining about how there’s nothing to write about. From an ethics perspective, I am finding too much to write about, especially since, unlike Ann, I still have to work for a living.

1. Quick: what does Patriots Day commemorate (and no, it’s not Tom Brady)? My home state of Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maine (which was once part of the Bay State), and Wisconsin observe the holiday, which honors the twin battles of Lexington and Concord, the confrontations with the British (on April 19, 1775, the day after “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere”) that launched the Revolutionary War. I visited both battlefields more times than I could count when I was living in Arlington, Mass., right next to Lexington. That battlefield, what’s left of it, is in the middle of busy streets on all sides; it’s hard to imagine the scene as described in the song above from “1776.” Concord’s battlefield, in contrast, is almost exactly as it was in 1775.

All the publicity, even in Boston, about today will be dominated by the running of the Boston Marathon, but attention should be paid to the inspiring story of how ragtag groups of volunteers faced off against the trained soldiers of the most powerful country on Earth, sending the message that this rebellion would not be so easy to put down.  49 Colonists died, 39 were wounded, and five were unaccounted for. The British lost 73, while 174 were wounded,and 26 were missing.

2. It’s also Jackie Robinson Day. In every MLB game today, every player will wear Jackie’s number 42. The best way to honor Jackie for the rest of us is to tell his story to someone who doesn’t know who Jackie Robinson was, and it is shocking how many such people there are. The film “42” does an excellent job of dramatizing how Jackie broke the color barrier in baseball, simultaneously weakening segregation everywhere. The Ethics Alarms post about Robinson is here.

3. Of course, California won’t be celebrating Patriots Day. It’s probably a day of mourning…In Laguna Beach, many residents were horrified by the decision to add a stars and stripes graphic to the sides of the city’s police cars.Officials will now reconsider their February decision to add an American flag vibe to its fleet of 11 squad cars. Artist Carrie Woodburn told the March 19 council meeting and said it was “shocking to see the boldness of the design” when the newly painted Ford Explorers rolled out. “We have such an amazing community of artists here, and I thought the aesthetic didn’t really represent our community,” Woodburn said. “It feels very aggressive.”

What–the hell—does THAT mean?

4. The  Twitter-sparked deterioration of Lawrence Tribe’s brain continues apace. The once-respected Harvard law professor tweeted this out after fad Democratic Presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg finally announced formally that he was running:

…The @PeteButtigieg audience was overwhelmingly white. He’ll need to be more inclusive going forward. I trust he will be.

Unless they were screening the crowd at the door, “being more inclusive” has nothing to do with the composition of Buttigieg’s crowd. He’s a white, gay male, and unless he announces that he’s also a transexual, female, handicapped Latino, his audience will be defined by group identities and tribal loyalties, because that’s how his party rolls.  Twitter appears to have halved Tribe’s intellect, but an obsession with diversity, quotas and tribalism has crippled Democratic values.

4.  Diversity of viewpoints, however, will not be tolerated. In another alarming pair of tweets, conservative journalist Kaitlin Bennett reported,

I am a conservative journalist and was just ejected from a @BernieSanders rally for expressing my 1st amendment. I was just sitting there and was told I had to leave, with no reason given except that his campaign didn’t want me there. THIS is actual fascism…The police officer agreed with me that I did nothing wrong, but booted me anyway. On my way out, the private security officer told me he supports me but has to do his job. Thank you @BernieSanders for exposing how intolerant the left really is towards dissenting opinions.

To be fair, I don’t think there was any question how intolerant the Left is toward dissenting opinions, so giving credit to Bernie is unjust.

5. Good news! The ACLU is sometimes still interested in protecting free speech!  In Lacey, New Jersey,  high school officials suspended two students  for posting pictures of firearms on their personal social media accounts. One of the posts was captioned “hot stuff” and read, “If there’s ever a zombie apocalypse, you know where to go.”

Snapchat posts disappear after 24 hours and can only be seen by followers, but a parent called the school to complain that the Snapchat posts had made their child “nervous.” Of course, a competent official would have pointed out that off-campus, non-threatening  speech that makes other students “nervous” is not their business. I suppose it’s possible that the parents’ kid was a zombie…

The American Civil Liberties Union is suing the school on behalf of the suspended students. Good. Filed in federal district court this week, the suit says the school violated the students’ First Amendment rights.

Ya think?

“There was no threat. No unlawful behavior whatsoever. That is classic speech,” said Alexander Shalom, a senior supervising attorney for the ACLU-NJ. “They communicated something to their friends off of school grounds, off of school property, off of school time and the school simply doesn’t have the authority to discipline them for what they’re doing outside of school time.”

Now let’s talk about how educators can teach our kids when they are apparently ignorant of the Bill of Rights.

6. Anything that makes state lotteries look bad is aces with me! Stipulated: State lotteries are unethical, prey on the poor and stupid, and comes perilously close to fraud. This story, however, is head-exploding.

Colorado engineer Amir Massihzadeh won the state lottery in 2005. Four years later, two state agents told him that he was likely the only legitimate winner of a $4.8 million jackpot that had been split three ways. The other two winners were part of a conspiracy  in which a lottery employee and his co-conspirators had rigged drawings in several states. Somehow, however, Colorado thinks it can weasel out of paying Amir the whole $4.8 million, even though he was the only winner who wasn’t cheating. This week Massihzadeh filed a lawsuit against the Colorado Lottery, arguing he should be declared the sole winner and that the $800,000 cash prize he received should have been tripled, and that he is owed  interest and damages.

Of course he is.


17 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/15/2019: Patriots Day! Jackie Robinson Day!

  1. #3 I would like to hear comments from Laguna Beach “artists” and “community members” on their views about the aggression of July 4th and Flag Day. Lets just call things by their names, these people are unrepentant communists that hate America and the values it represents. They are also too hypocritical to ever move to a place that is closer to their “values”, because they know it won’t be as prosperous or free, and will probably be pretty racist/xenophobic towards them, because they will still be viewed as Americans, wherever they go. They might even get more contempt, if they talk about how they hate America to foreigners, showing what ingrates they are. I think a sure way to teach these folks about civics is to send them to live in Saudi Arabia for year, as free citizens, not prisoners or anything like that. I think that will be enough of a lesson for them to understand the uniqueness of the American Experience.

  2. It’s also National Glazed Spiral Cut Ham Day, according to a friend who knows these things.

    Now THERE’S something to celebrate.

    • Yeah, I do think the new police car livery design is, in fact, very aggressive — looks almost like a SWAT unit. Not sure how much the use of the flag actually has to do with the complaints, but Laguna Beach does have a reputation.

    • The contrasting colors WITHIN the font that spells out P-O-L-I-C-E makes the word itself hard to read.
      Other than that, I have no problem with the design.


  3. I suppose it’s possible that the parents’ kid was a zombie…

    Jack will be here all week, folks.

    Happy Patriots’ Day. Mrs. OB and I were married in Saugus, Mass on actual Patriots’ Day forty-four years ago. When was the observation moved to be around a weekend rather than April, 19? It was 1975 and the Bicentennial was just around the corner so it was a supercharged Patriots’ Day. Mrs. OB reported seeing a guy in the three cornered hat driving down Route 1 in a VW beetle.

    I guess Lexington and Concord get more kids’ school bus tours than Bunker Hill, but Bunker Hill has to be a close second.

    Getting a big dose of Jerry Remy speaking Bostonease at Fenway this morning.

  4. My son has come from school the past few weeks telling to talking about Jackie Robinson (Did you know he played football)? At least on some level, schools are doing something right. We just signed him up with coach pitch baseball. He said to me “I want to play first base like Jackie Robinson.”

    He’s had a hard time listening this past week, but moments like this make me really happy.

  5. Tennessee also observes Patriot’s Day. What is now Tennessee was part of North Carolina during the Revolution, but many residents of the region fought in the war, most notably the Battle of King’s Mountain in South Carolina. My SAR chapter has a Patriot’s Day observance every year.

  6. (3) Maybe they should repaint the cars with a Mexican flag. I suspect that, sadly, would be more acceptable.

    (5) The judges need to start awarding these parents private school at the expense of the public school system. There is no way this child is going to be treated more fairly after such a judgement than they were before. It is also clear that non-leftist children cannot be treated fairly by such a school system. If the public school system will only educate 1/2 the students, it needs to start paying for the education of the other half as well.

  7. To celebrate Tax Day at lunch, I found a fast food joint that offers a discount deal. In order to remain politically correct, I will not say which fast food chain. It started in Texas. I am not talking about Whataburger. Tomorrow, I believe, is San Jacinto Day…shame on me for not being more sure about Texas history. Anyway, the good bad guys won at San Jacinto.

    3. Good old LaGoona Beach – “Where the Police Are Not the Goons.” Perhaps the Columbia University cops could learn from the California cops:

  8. … the inspiring story of how ragtag groups of volunteers faced off against the trained soldiers of the most powerful country on Earth …

    Sigh. This fallacy keeps cropping up and should not be perpetuated. I will deal with it properly when I get the chance to write the fuller replies to some related matters, but for now I will point out the following more accurate material, leaving it up to readers to go into denial or go and check for themselves, as they prefer:-

    They did no such thing, though what they did do was quite impressive enough as it was. They faced up against sizeable numbers of highly trained soldiers. There is absolutely no need or justification for mis-stating that those highly trained soldiers were from “the most powerful country on Earth”; they weren’t, they were British. The very real accomplishment would have been the same if they had faced as many Dutch or Danish regulars.

    At that time, Britain was the strongest single naval power, though not yet strong enough to stand against France’s and Spain’s navies combined (that came with Trafalgar in 1805). Britain wasn’t able to secure its sea communications adequately because of that, which showed very visibly at the Battle of Chesapeake Bay and its consequence that Yorktown didn’t turn into a Torres Vedras or at worst a Dunkirk or Corunna but rather a Dien Bien Phu.

    Spain, France, Turkey, Russia and China were all more powerful than Britain (then), though only the first two had material out of area capability. Certainly the last four had larger economies. But those first two later became allies of the rebels! Though they weren’t yet in 1775, the rebels were trying to arrange it and may have been planning around it (though we can’t be sure).

    Britain was a very weak military power, even for its economic size, largely because of a deliberate policy for constitutional reasons: keeping the military small in peace time, and keeping it in foreign operations in war, meant that it couldn’t be used to override British constitutional arrangements. Things had been like that ever since the Glorious Revolution of 1688. That made Britain comparable to Denmark and Holland. It gets worse: the Dutch refused to comply with treaty obligations to release British troops (the “Scots Hollanders”), who were supposed to be on call as a reserve not needing training. Why else would Britain hire mercenaries (this is loose usage), if it had enough troops anyway?

    Britain did have two things going for it, that helped it recover from the war but did little or nothing to help during the war: it had a stronger and more sophisticated financial system than nearly everybody but the Dutch, so it didn’t suffer from defeat as badly as France did from a Pyrrhic Victory; and, those conquests of the Seven Years’ War that weren’t lost by 1783, which at that stage were still military drains as they needed consolidation, came on stream enough to rebuild the British Empire.

    • 1) True.
      2) Still, that’s the STORY. The story, as you point out, is hyped, but it’s still the story, and treated with the Liberty Valence Rule, “Print the legend.”
      3) Comment of the Day.

      • Although the story is worth repeating as a story, it should always be noted as such. To do otherwise is to perpetuate a fallacy that could get people into trouble even in our day by feeding them a myth of personal superiority or something of the sort (that’s how all this connects). It would make the teller an enemy of truth and a servant of the lie, all the more likely to do more and worse along those lines and all the less trustworthy and reliable for it. As someone recently asked around here, how many lies does someone have to tell for that to make him a liar?

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