Pre-Memorial Day Weekend Ethics Warm-Up, 5/23/2019: Here, There, And Everywhere, With Hugs

Good morning…

Reflections: In D.C., today is being treated like a Friday, as it is assumed that everyone is taking off tomorrow for an extended 4-day weekend. It is irrelevant to ProEthics since we don’t take vacations, and ethics never sleeps, but impactful to Ethics Alarms, which means that I will be blogging for a handful of stalwarts—thank you all—and otherwise talking to myself.

This has me already thinking about Memorial Day, which in turn causes me to think about my father, who will be spending the holiday, now and forever, with my mother at Arlington National Cemetery. Being a World War II veteran was second only to being a father and husband in my father’s view of his life’s priorities. In his final years, he often drove down to the Mall and the World War II Memorial, wearing his vest with his medals, and served as kind of a volunteer exhibit himself, a real, live Word War II veteran for visitors, especially students and your tourist, to take photos with and interview. Many of his encounters that began with, “Excuse me, are you a real soldier from the war?” ended with him being hugged and even getting gifts. Now I regret I never accompanied him in some of those weekly excursions into old memories and personal pride. I only found out about them after his death in 2009.

A about a week after my dad died, I was at my parent’s condo with my mother. A knock on the door brought another resident of Fairlington South ( an Arlington, VA development converted from Army barracks during World War II) into the room. He was an active Vietnam vet, about my age, who had engaged my father to speak to his veterans’ group a few times, and who obviously admired Dad a great deal. He entered cheerily and asked, “Where’s Jack?” When I told him that Dad had died, the expression on his face melted into abject shock and grief so quickly and vividly that the image haunts me to this day.

I don’t think I fully appreciated how much my father was respected and loved by even casual acquaintances who knew about his service and character until that moment.

1. Theory: If you can’t win under the rules, change the rules. Nevada has joined the states attempting to by-pass the Constitution with the scheme of directing its electors to vote for the winner of the popular vote regardless of which candidate the state’s residents favored. I think that means 15 states, all with Democratric Party-dominated legislatures, are trying this stunt so far in frustration over Al Gore and Hillary Clinton joining Andrew Jackson, Samuel Tilden and Grover Cleveland on the list of Presidential candidates defeated by the Electoral College.

This is grandstanding: the device is unconstitutional on its face, and sinister mischief: the idea is to pander to civic ignorance (“Of course the popular vote winner should become President!” is an easy call if you don’t know anything about history or why the Electoral College was installed) and almost guarantees a Constitutional crisis and maybe violence in the streets the next time a Democrat loses despite a popular vote edge.

2.  Of course, it increasing appears that Democrats advocate violence, at least against anyone who dares to disagree with them.

Bill Press, a past host of “Crossfire” political show who is now a radio host, columnist, and the personification of the most repulsive attitudes of the Left, revealed in his  radio show/podcast that he approved of the  “milkshaking” of Great Britain’s conservative  Nigel Farage, the leader of the Brexit movement,  “loves” the idea, and “hopes it comes to this country.” He then suggested that Attorney General Barr should have a milkshake thrown at him.

Be proud, progressives.

Ethics tip: Funny violence is still violence.

It’s really becoming hard not to hate these people, but then, as Richard Nixon said in probably his greatest quote, whether he believed it or not,

“Always remember, others may hate you, but those who hate you don’t win unless you hate them, and then you destroy yourself.”

3. Speaking of Great Britain: Today is election day, and  the BBC states on its website that “there will be no coverage of the election campaign on polling day, from 00.30 until polls close at 22.00 on TV, radio or” That means that any election-related event today that might influence voters will be withheld from them. This is  pure government censorship. That the Brits accept this like the Eloi marched off to be eaten in “The Time Machine” is profoundly depressing.

Wait, I forgot: WE’RE the ones ruled by a fascist….

4. Poll update: On the question of which of the five stupid stories in yesterday’s “ethics respite” was the most idiotic, the overwhelming leader, with 36% of the vote is “They are all unbelievably stupid, and I don’t want to live any more.”

Great, now Ethics Alarms is becoming a death cult.

5. Hugging ethics. On yesterday’s really excellent Open Forum (if you haven’t read the comments, especially the threads on female accusations of harassment and the second Amendment),  JP had this query:

I’m not sure how to handle this situation. As a minster, may people in the church come up to hug me (mostly older). I don’t really like it. It is extremely uncomfortable for me. Some of these people are the leadership of the church. After following this blog, I had decided I was finally going to start saying something about it. Then one of my colleagues got super sick (he died today). His wife, who I have never hugged before (always got the impression she never liked me) hugged me while I was visiting in them in hospice and started crying. She was obviously looking for comfort.

So two thoughts. Christians often treat other Christians as family. We talk about how we are family. I teach about it quite often, which is why I have never said anything about it before. This isn’t a business relationship, my job is intended to be personal. Is it unethical for me to not hug them? And if its not, is it unethical for me to hug (or not hug them) in situations like the one given while saying I don’t want to be hugged (coming off a hypocrite)?

Coincidentally, the question of unwanted hugs was a major topic at yesterday’s sexual harassment training, as female members of the staff are often ambushed by male members who think they have a right to greet them with a hug and often a kiss. No, I said, it is not your job to consent to physical contact. The hug is often a power move, and undermines a professional woman’s status. I recommend the quick-draw handshake if you sense an unwanted hug is coming, and if you aren’t fast enough, gently push the hugger away, with a nice but firm, “No hugging, please. I don’t appreciate it.” it is also important, in a professional setting, to not accept hugs from anyone, even if a particular hug would be welcome.

It is different if someone needs a hug, and you can provide genuine comfort in a crisis. For a minister, providing that comfort is a professional duty, and for anyone else, its an ethical duty. However, there is nothing in a minister’s duties or job description that requires him to acceded to unwanted physical contact. If a minister is made uncomfortable by routine hugs, he or she ought to follow the same procedures as non-ministers.

6. What the heck is going on in Boston? OtherBill pointed me to this head-buster from the Boston Globe. (MFA in Bostonese is its esteemed Museum of Fine Arts on the Fens):

MFA apologizes after students from Dorchester school subjected to racism during field trip

In a letter posted to the museum’s website, top MFA officials apologized to the students and staff at the Helen Y. Davis Leadership Academy for “a range of challenging and unacceptable experiences that made them feel unwelcome. That is not who we are or want to be. Our intention is to set the highest of standards, and we are committed to doing the work that it will take to get there.”

School principal Arturo J. Forrest said he heard reports of one museum staff member telling students “no food, no drink, and no watermelon” and of museum security singling out some students while leaving white students alone. Additionally, one museum patron reportedly made a comment to a female student about paying attention in the MFA so she could avoid a career as a stripper, while another patron referred to a group of students as “(expletive) black kids.”

That’s a mighty perfunctory apology for outrageous conduct from museum staff. Such incidents aren’t a “bad apples” problem, they are unmistakable signs of rotten culture and incompetent management. The letter should have said,

‘The Museum of Fine Arts is embarrassed and ashamed at the conduct of our employees. Such hostility, incivility and disrespect is intolerable here, and anywhere. There is no excuse for how our guests from Helen Y. Davis Leadership Academy were treated, and the Museum will be shutting down until we can be confident that such incidents will not and cannot occur again. Doing so will require a thorough investigation into our staff training, hiring, supervision and management.

We apologize to the students who were so mistreated, our patrons, the artists whose works this conduct diminishes, and the city of Boston.’


34 thoughts on “Pre-Memorial Day Weekend Ethics Warm-Up, 5/23/2019: Here, There, And Everywhere, With Hugs

  1. 6. I guess we have to believe all high school students … as long as they’re not white kids from a Catholic school in the South.

    This story is very weird. Is Boston really such a retrograde place? Is Southie still a cesspool of racism? Has the BOOMFA relocated to Southie? There’s been no progress in Boston or racial issues in what, fifty years? Watermelon comments? Really? From the residents of Elizabeth Warren’s adopted metropolitan area? Larry Tribe’s adopted metropolitan area? John Kerry’s and all the Kennedy’s home state?

    Did the BOOMFA management do any investigation? They only referred to hearsay.

    Weird all around. I wonder if any surveillance video will show up. Weird.

    • 1. If the MFA is going to put up that letter, then it has endorsed the story, and we have to take them at their word.
      2. Boston is pretty racist. Everywhere.
      3. Still, that story is way, way beyond anything I’ve ever heard of at a public place like the MFA.

      • 3. No kidding. Maybe the Boston Herald will task some reporters to dig into this story. The Globe certainly won’t. They’ll milk it for all it’s worth.

      • On point #2, though it’s fashionable to portray racism as always having a southern accent, Boston and Chicago are undoubtedly the two most casually racist places I’ve ever been. They may be “blue” states, but Illinois and Massachusetts have a lot of work to do on that front.

        The “watermelon” comment in particular seems a bit over-the-top to be entirely plausible for an art museum employee, but wouldn’t be altogether surprising in many other contexts in either city.

        • The article says all the students were “of color.” If there’s any truth at all in this, it could be that the staff member is also of color, and thought he or she was being funny.

  2. Regarding #2: Eventually someone who disagrees with the resistance will violently act out from the corner into which they’ve been forced. To Nixon’s point, that’s exactly what they want.

    #1 The image of very young men staring at the carnage they are about to join on a Normandy beach from an open landing craft gate is bone chilling even 75 years later. They and so many others deserve to be remembered with genuine awe.

    • Anyone who intentionally douses me with a milkshake will lose teeth, and I don’t accept the judgment of a culture which considers that an unjustified response, their judgment thereby being made a subject of valid criticism. I think so much of this petty violence grows wild in the fertile soil of our willingness to treat it as anything other than criminal assault. It won’t go away until it’s responded to appropriately. An assault charge against someone acting in the described manner being thrown out of a courtroom with open disdain for the malfeasance of the prosecutor would do wonders. Can a soaking with a milkshake be said to be of lesser justification for self defense than “fighting words”?

  3. Regarding #3, today is European Union election day in the UK, this isn’t a parliamentary election day, just to avoid confusion.

  4. Re: No. 1; Electoral College.

    This is pernicious to a representative democracy. It is the same mindset that told elecction delegates to “vote their consciences” in December 2016, imploring them to disregard the results of their respective states who voted in Trump’s favor as opposed to Hillary Clinton.


    • And these are STATE LEGISLATURES doing this! These are not special interest groups or advocates of this or that Democratic Party operatives or paid consultants. Depressing.

        • JB

          Jack suggested that these acts wouldlead democrats to violence in the event that a Democrat is loses electorally but wins the poular vote. I disagree, the violence will occur if a popular vote winner causes states to disregard the will of its people and give their electoral votes to the candidate that lost in that state. These states are planning to effectively suppress the votes of the people in those states.

            • Republicans aren’t going to riot in the streets no matter what. The very alt-est of the alt-right from all over the US rallied to Charlottesville and couldn’t muster more than 200 geeks with tiki torches. Conservatives may be big on self-defense but there will never be enough of them willing to prance around and randomly hurt people and destroy property, Antifa-style. This is a good thing, btw, at least on principle.

              • Illegally suppress the will of the people and see what happens. If that does not get people into the streets them they deserve what they get.

                • Chris,

                  I doubt you get riots out of such a scenario. I DO bet you get sniping at certain politicians and other progressive targets.

                  Most military vets are from the right. Many on the right are deer hunters. Both have experience with long range kill shots. You cannot suppress the armed US population, or even those who would collaborate and protect them. People are not as stupid as the elites have convinced themselves: common Americans will act in their own self interest, knowing that such an event (stealing an election in this manner) is an existential threat.

                  When it gets real and personal, progressives run and hide. Been true my entire life.

      • I no longer believe there are any Democratic officials who aren’t Democratic Party operatives. The Democratic Party demands that Democrats be loyal to the party first, the country second. Remember when Bill Maher stated that Democrats needed to sabotage the economy of the nation to get rid of Trump?

        Now, what I think would be hilarious is for Trump to win the popular vote. Many of the states that have joined the ‘popular vote compact’ also have removed Trump from the 2020 Presidential ballot. What happens if Trump wins the popular vote? Does he win their electoral votes even though he wasn’t even on the ballot?

        It is also a shame the Constitution doesn’t matter anymore.
        “But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of ELECTORS for President and Vice President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the Executive and Judicial officers of a State, or the members of the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male INHABITANTS OF SAID STATE, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State.”
        *Words all in bold were mine for emphasis

  5. 5. No, there is nothing in my job description that says this. I often wonder if it is implied. It isn’t illegal. It isn’t a power move (it might be if I do it), and there are things I often do in my job that are not comfortable (such as talking to people about death, sex, drugs, etc). In some cases, it is owed (like the example I give). I wonder if this area might fall under the ethics incompleteness principle.

  6. 1. As usual, nobody is thinking of second order effects. The bit of me that is chaotic neutral wants this to happen so that the next presidential comes down to a few thousand votes and there are dozens of lawsuits over the country to decide who votes for whom.

    3. At least it’s only the BBC not reporting. Growing up in Mexico the government prohibited even private news agencies from reporting election results on election day. I’ll just say that satellite dishes were a hot commodity before the Internet came.

    • I don’t think I have a problem with election results not being reported until all the polls close. I despise the horse-race nature of news outlets rushing to “call” each state for a candidate. The US is spread across a 6-hour time zone difference, so announcing results while half the country is still voting seems wrong to me.

      Election news, however is a different beast, and shouldn’t be blacked out at any time.

  7. #1: I expect this to last until one of these states swings Republican. Then suddenly it will be “anti-democratic” that the people of that state’s electoral votes don’t go to the candidate the people of that state chose.

    • That’s my feeling, exactly. Are they prepared for California or New York to vote Republican again (as they did for decades)?

      The irony is that they are constantly harping on giving the country the candidate that the “people” want, but, if they don’t like the “people’s” choice, they go on about how uneducated, ignorant and unqualified some voters are to make important choices like that.

      Kinda like how Hillary Clinton could go oversees and set women’s suffrage back 100 years by claiming that women who didn’t vote for her let their husbands tell them how to vote.

      They are, clearly, shameless and will say, argue or do anything they can to achieve power and not relinquish it.

    • Progressives will shill for whatever is in their perceived best interest at the moment. That may change as soon as the next moment; you can count on it changing at some point in the future.

      You cannot debate or make compromises with such people. You can only defeat them, or go extinct.

  8. 1. Popular Vote Mischief

    Besides being unconstitutional, what happens if the electors, who are currently selected by various means but in most of the states being selected by the parties themselves (or party bosses), decide not to play along with this new parlor game? Suppose they vote for who they are supposed to vote for despite the state’s agreement to do otherwise?

    Also, what if one of the members of the compact decided not to go along, or the GOP (let’s just say it happens) governor at the time tells the electors to vote their conscience?

    Sounds like potential trouble to me.

    2. Democrat Violence

    This is not new. Remember it was the Democrats that were responsible for most of the racial violence in the Jim Crow south, not to mention the violence at Kent State, the Chicago convention riots, Rodney King, etc., etc., ad nauseum.

    I think if somebody “milkshakes” Barr, his protection detail should draw their firearms and arrest him on the spot, and charge him with a federal crime. Assault, even with a milkshake or rotten fruit, is a crime, and assault on a member of the cabinet is a federal felony.

    A young leftist smashed an egg on an Australian politician’s head. The politician then punched him right in the phiz. That’s an option, but I prefer a more dignified approach — arrest and conviction.

    It’s not necessary to hate these jerks, but it is necessary to show them no mercy.

    3. Great Britain

    That the Brits accept this like the Eloi marched off to be eaten in “The Time Machine” is profoundly depressing.

    Well, H.G. Wells was a Brit, after all, and apparently knew his country well.

    5. Hugs

    This entire subject saddens me.

    6. Boston

    Wow, what a “woke” place.

  9. #1 – I think the odds of the electoral college being against the democrats will only increase. The left is increasingly concentrated in a few states in massive urban areas. New York, Illinois and California have moved so far that they concentrate massive margins into the same electoral votes. This will only double down their efforts to overthrow the electoral college. I don’t think this is going anywhere so long as it can’t pass in a right leaning state. They’ll get close but not all the way there.

    #3 – There is a reason the United States would have never stayed a British colony. This is among them. There is no right to self defense and no right to freedom of speech and freedom of the press in Great Britain. Prior restraint is alive and in regular use there. It is criminal to report a great number of things in GB. Here, we go after leakers, in GB they imprison the reporters who are reporting things they’re “not supposed to report.”

  10. I happened to be at MFA on Tuesday during a trip to town. Lots of school kids about and many were black and brown. Seemed like some entire groups were similar to the school in the story.

    I am shocked. I find it highly doubtful there was a comment about watermelon – the only real allegation against the staff. That’s a job ender and who really wants go down with that one. I have read that a witness offers a different account – the statement was “no water bottles.” That is very plausible.

    The kids I saw were typical kids at a cultural institution: louder than adults, moved faster, were alternately more and less engaged. The staff was taking care and the chaperones even more care.

    While I saw and have seen my share of overt racism in Boston, I want to believe it didn’t originate with the staff at MFA given my recent experience. Patrons, maybe. They have nothing to lose here.

  11. There has been a… rash… That’s the word I’m going to use. There has been a rash of 11th hour political discoveries…

    Kavanaugh’s probably being the worst. The man graduates, becomes a jurist, has a career, and then 40 years after the alleged conduct, a bombshell 11th hour revelation comes down the pipe and it turns out that he’s a serial rapist…. except he isn’t.

    Or, to use some Canadian content, Patrick Brown, at the time leader of the Progressive Conservative (As close to Republican as we get) party of Ontario, lining up to be their new premier (Think Governor), because the incumbent Liberal party (basically what it sounds like) was on the rails. Then all of a sudden, two women, two, come forward with allegations that a) she was underage and he plied her with alcohol and took her home when he was 24 and b) that he took her to his upstairs bedroom and sexually assaulted her, except a) she was 20 and b) Brown lives in a one-story flat.

    Even allegations that seem to pan out all seem to be 11th hour plays; Roy Moore as an example. I mean, we had reasons to not support him before the last slew of allegations, but diddling little girls was probably a bridge to far and lo and behold: The allegations were discovered after it was too late to run a less scuzzy candidate.

    Now…. Who believes that these things all get found on the 11th hour? Show of hands. Assuming everyone in this room can think, I’m pretty sure the consensus is going to be that the left keeps whatever smears they can muster in their personal spank banks until they think it will do the most damage, and then they follow through. It’s shitty, it shows they don’t really have principled positions on what they say they stand for (but really, who’s surprised), but it’s effective, to a point, and that’s enough, because Democrats are about Power.

    Which is why the constant barrage of slurs and scandals regarding Trump confuses me. Is there something left in the cannon, or are the democrats constantly blowing their wad? We haven’t even properly ramped into the election cycle, and unless the Democrats have held something in reserve, they might actually end up having to discuss issues…. Which would be borderline disastrous for them.

    • Oh to have “sleazy” Patrick rather than crazy Doug. While I hear you about the Dems and their thirst for power, the candidate nomination stories for PB and leadership nomination stories for DF are just as awful as any we heard about the Libs under KW or even JT at the federal level.

      • I think at this point it’s beyond obvious that the allegations against Brown were politically motivated lies. I think the idea was that if they could sewer the conservative leader going into the election, that Wynne might have pulled something out of her ass, or maybe that Horwath could have gained traction. I wonder if they knew how it was going to pan out, whether they would have preferred Ford or Brown? (I don’t really wonder, miscalculations were made).

        This bears no judgement on the relative merits of any of the candidates in question, only that the fact of the matter is that this was another example of left leaning activists dredging up accusations of impropriety, facts be damned, on the eve of elections to try to influence the outcome.

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