Comments Of The Day: “Dear Ethics Alarms: I Am An Advice Columnist Who Is Ignorant And Phobic About Guns….”

“Am I holding it right?”

In the comments to yesterday’s post discussing the jaw-dropping ignorance and anti-gun bias displayed by a popular advice columnist, the question again arose as to why anti-gun advocates remain so uninformed about their own passion, and don’t bother to educate themselves sufficiently that they won’t sound like idiots—like, for example, “Ask Amy,” who confused hollow-point bullets with armor-piercing bullets, said the hollow-points were “exploding bullets,” referred to a common and popular handgun as the kind of weapon criminals use, and suggested that owning a gun was a dangerous sign of hidden criminal activity.

Glenn Logan, in the first of the two  Comments of the Day that were sparked by “Dear Ethics Alarms: I Am An Advice Columnist Who Is Ignorant And Phobic About Guns. When I Get A Question About Guns, What Should I Do?, theorized thusly…

I think perhaps because they believe it unnecessary and irrelevant. Guns are bad regardless of the use or competence of the person owning them, and that badness is imputed, in large degree, to their owner. It’s a kind of guilt by association — if you own a gun, there is something fundamentally wrong with you based on that fact alone. Guns = Bad, and how they or their ammunition works is just a meaningless detail that couldn’t possibly interest an enlightened person.

You can tell by the way firearms opponents argue their points that they neither know nor care about the function of firearms. They don’t think all that stuff matters, and in their minds, no amount of facts can overcome the one simple judgment that firearm ownership is undesirable in advanced societies.

It is possible that the gun-haters actually fear knowledge about firearms — they fear they may be seduced by their apparently powerful evil, and thereby tempted to become what they not just despise, but actively want to despise. Continue reading

“Dear Ethics Alarms: I Am An Advice Columnist Who Is Ignorant And Phobic About Guns. When I Get A Question About Guns, What Should I Do?”

Bullets, shmullets, what’s the difference?

“Ask Amy,” authored by Amy Dickinson, is one of the mid-level practitioners of the syndicated advice columnist’s craft—not consistently brilliant like Carolyn Hax, not as persistently wrong-headed as the now mercifully retired Emily Yoffe at Slate.

A recent letter to Amy read,

Dear Amy: This week, I discovered that my intelligent, hard-working, responsible 24-year-old daughter (who lives with me) is a gun owner! And it’s not a normal gun, either — it is a 40-caliber semi-automatic, and she has hollow-point bullets to go with it. Amy, this is the kind of weapon a criminal would possess! She says it is for emergencies. There have only been two home invasions in our neighborhood in the last 11 years. I’ve given her three choices: She can either give her weapon to me, sell it or move out in three weeks. I love my daughter and would be so sad for her to move into a place that she would hardly be able to afford, but now I have to lock my bedroom door at night because I don’t know what she’s going to do. Now she says that I don’t trust her, and is barely speaking to me. How can I convince her to stop endangering us?—Dumbfounded Father

Let’s make a couple of observations right away.

  • The father has every right to refuse to let the daughter keep a gun in his house; she is his guest. Nor was it respectful, fair or honest for her to bring a gun into the house without telling her host. I don’t know what the writer thinks is a “normal gun,” but a 40-caliber semi-automatic is certainly one in this day and age.

The writer is apparently frightened by the scary “semi-automatic” part, which just means he is unfamiliar with firearms that wouldn’t be used by Hopalong Cassidy.

  • “Amy, this is the kind of weapon a criminal would possess!” is free-floating anti-gun hysteria.

It’s also a gun a law-abiding citizen would possess, except that such a  gun would be possessed legally. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 6/18/2019: Nauseatingly Unethical

Gooood Morning, and Ick.

1. Illegal immigration battles update:  a) The Empire State’s governor,  Andrew Cuomo,  signed legislation granting driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants—NBC calls them “undocumented immigrants, which is unethically deceptive —right after the measure passed the state Senate. New York is now the 13th state to take this unconscionable  course, creating an incentive as well as a reward for breaking U.S. laws and defying its borders.

There is no justification for ever rewarding lawbreaking  through public policy, unless the objective is to eliminate the law. Yet the Democrats who rationalize these measures still say that their party doesn’t want open borders.  How long can sentient individuals believe that? The existence of these laws, as well as sanctuary cities, prove otherwise. As idiotic and suicidal as it is, an open borders position should at least be honestly proposed and debated, since that is what progressives are really pushing for. I could have some respect for that approach. This one–lying about the intention while undermining immigration laws–is indefensible as well as cowardly.

b) In that vein, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez described the unavoidable detention facilities at the border as “concentration camps.” “I want to talk to the people that are concerned enough with humanity to say that ‘never again’ means something,” she said in an Instagram rant yesterday. Calling the President  a “fascist” (This will be today’s Big Lie entry, as the directory continues), she went on, “I don’t use those words to just throw bombs,” she said, throwing bombs, “I use that word because that is what an administration that creates concentration camps is. A presidency that creates concentration camps is fascist and it’s very difficult to say that. The fact that concentration camps are now an institutionalized practice in the home of the free is extraordinarily disturbing and we need to do something about it.”

How many blatant misrepresentation and lies are in those statements? Well, how much time  ya got? Detention centers are unavoidable. They aren’t concentration camps, and the Holocaust comparison is ignorant, inflammatory and obnoxious as well as false. (“What happened to people in concentration camps?” asked OtherBill, who flagged this for me). The President is bound by his oath of office to see that the rule of law remains intact, and to protect the Constitution. A growing hoard of illegal immigrants breaching the law and established procedures to get over the border and then vanish into sanctuary cities creates a threat to both.  The Nazis put their own citizens into concentration camps (you know, like FDR did with Japanese Americans? ), and then murdered them. The illegals at the border are not citizens, they are not legally refugees until we say so, and the U.S. has no obligation, legal or otherwise, to accept what has become a cynical excuse to flout our laws. Continue reading

The Constitution, Law, Rationalizations And Ethics—One Of These Things Is Not Like The Other, II: Double Jeopardy Get A SCOTUS Pass

The first time I recall being made aware that a state and the U.S. could both charge a citizen based on the same act was during the Rodney King Ethics Train Wreck, when after the jury acquitted the LA cops involved and the riots ensued, the Justice Department charged them with violating King’s civil rights. They were convicted, and sent to prison. That sure seemed like double jeopardy to me [See: the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which provides in part: “[N]or shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb….]  and I wondered why the Supreme Court allowed it.

Why has remained a good question, but when is clear: in 1876, the Court ruled in United States v. Cruikshank that the government of the United States is a separate sovereign from any State:

This does not, however, necessarily imply that the two governments possess powers in common, or bring them into conflict with each other. It is the natural consequence of a citizenship which owes allegiance to two sovereignties, and claims protection from both. The citizen cannot complain, because he has voluntarily submitted himself to such a form of government. He owes allegiance to the two departments, so to speak, and within their respective spheres must pay the penalties which each exacts for disobedience to its laws. In return, he can demand protection from each within its own jurisdiction.

Thus the bizarre construct known as the dual sovereignty rule was born. It means that double jeopardy doesn’t apply when a state and the nation try the same individual for the same criminal act. It seems unfair, because it is unfair. It is, however, old. Continue reading

Ethics Quiz: The Revoked Harvard Acceptance

Kyle Kashuv is the  Parkland, Florida student who bucked the trend and took the side of the Second Amendment while his fellow students were being hailed as moral exemplars for attacking the NRA and touring the country as vocal and self-righteous anti-gun activists.  While David Hogg and the rest became go-to guests on CNN and MSNBC’s talking head shows, Kashuv  launched a career as a junior conservative pundit, hanging out on Fox News.  Harvard College, which never found a young celebrity it didn’t want to recruit as long as he or she could spell C-A-T, accepted him for its 2023 Class.

Then some text  messages using racial epithets and expressing anti-minority sentiments that  he exchanged with other Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students months before the massacre “surfaced online.” That means some of his classmates who don’t like his non-conforming politics decided to sabotage his academic aspirations.

Harvard contacted Kyle and demanded that he explain himself.  Kyle resorted to the old “that’s not who I am” trope so well-worn by celebrities and sports figures who have faced public relations crises created by social media posts they made when they were nobodies with a handful of followers. Kashuv’s problem is that in those cases, an adult was saying that he or she was “not the same person” as the foolish child from the misty past, while in his case, he is disavowing who he was just two years ago. Continue reading

The Constitution, Law, Rationalizations And Ethics—One Of These Things Is Not Like The Other, I: The University Of Houston Steals A Photo

Two recent cases illustrate how law and even Constitutional law can be perverted toward indefensible ends if compliance is the only objective, and ethics are left out of the equation. The first case comes to us from Texas, University. of Houston System .v.Jim Olive Photography.

Houston photographer Jim Olive  discovered during an online check of his copyrighted works that the  University of Houston had appropriated one of his photographs and was using it extensively in its  web and print promotional materials. It was an overhead, aerial image of the City of Houston at dusk in 2005 that Olive went to great expense and effort  to produce.  He rented a helicopter, hired a pilot, and utilizing special photography equipment, suspended himself from the helicopter with a harness.

The university admired it, and found the shot ideal for its purposes, so it  downloaded the photo from Olive’s stock library, removed the copyright markings, and did not credit him when they used it. Olive sent the school a take-down letter and a bill, and the university refused to pay. Then he sued, but the university responded  that it has sovereign immunity, and can’t be sued, because he isn’t a citizen of Texas. The Eleventh Amendment reads in part,

The Judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by Citizens of another State, or by Citizens or Subjects of any Foreign State.

The photographer had no right to sue under the U.S. Constitution unless the school waived its sovereign immunity or the act of using the photograph constituted a “taking” of property, the University’s lawyers  argued. When the trial court sided with Olive, the University appealed.

The Court of Appeals has ruled against Olive, declaring  that the school’s actions wasn’t a “taking.” Not only can’t Oliver sue to be paid for the use of his photograph,  he will have to pay the university’s legal costs.

“It just doesn’t seem fair to me,” says Olive.  I’d say his instinct is accurate, but this is the law: fairness is beside the point. To make the ruling even more disturbing from an ethics perspective, the University has a page on its site directing readers to  report copyright infringements – and also to request permission to use UH intellectual property, like the photograph it stole from Jim Olive,

Nice. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 6/17/19: Abusers, British Morons, O.J., And A Commie

Good morning.

1. Update! The teachers and the principal responsible for the cruel “award” for the autistic boy (discussed here) are in the process of being fired.

Good.

2. This is what happens when a country doesn’t have a First AmendmentA law goes into effect in Great Britain making it illegal  for advertisements to include “gender stereotypes which are likely to cause harm or serious or widespread offense.” Complaints will be assessed by the Advertising Standards Authority. British broadcasters are bound by the terms of their licenses to comply with its rulings.

The aim, we are told,  is not to ban all gender stereotypes, just the harmful ones, because, said a spokesman,  “put simply, we found that some portrayals in ads can, over time, play a part in limiting people’s potential.”

Right.

Observations:

  • This also shows why progressives in the U.S. see the First Amendment as an impediment to their objectives.
  • Writes Jazz Shaw,

These guidelines don’t provide much to go on. They make reference to images that might suggest women do most of the housework and men being clueless about similar tasks. So I guess you’re no longer allowed to hire a female actress for any advertisements involving vacuuming, filling the dishwasher or operating the washing machine? This should indeed provide new employment opportunities for male actors, but somehow I don’t think that’s what they were going for here. Besides, won’t you just raise a new generation of kids who grow up thinking only men do chores around the house?

Oh, the unintended consequences of controlling what ideas and norms the pop culture can put into people’s heads are marvelous to behold.

  • The best part, you see, is that “authorities” get to decide which portrayals of stereotypes are “harmful.” In the U.S., such a law would be void for vagueness.

I like to keep these kinds of stories within reach when someone arguing for nationalized health care or a death penalty ban uses the “the U.S. is the only first world country that…” tactic. Yes, the U.S. is different.

3. Signature significance for a sociopath. Alternate title: “One more reason to stay away from Twitter.” O.J. Simpson has joined Twitter, saying in a video link,

“Hey Twitter world, this is yours truly. Coming soon to Twitter you’ll get to read all my thoughts and opinions on just about everything. Now, there’s a lot of fake O.J. accounts out there, so this one @TheRealOJ32, is the only official one. So, it should be a lot of fun — I’ve got a little getting even to do.”

And you know what O’J’ does when he decides to get even…

This is signature significance. A normal person in O.J.’s circumstances just doesn’t act like this. Then again, no normal person murders his ex-wife and her boyfriend with a hunting knife.

I don’t understand how O.J. can be active on Twitter and still hunt down the real killer, though…

4. Unethical Quote Of The Month That Doesn’t Deserve The Prominence Of A Stand-Alone Post: Newly Elected Denver City Council member Candi CdeBaca.

“I don’t believe our current economic system actually works. Um, capitalism by design is extractive and in order to generate profit in a capitalist system, something has to be exploited, that’s land, labor or resources. And I think that we’re in late phase capitalism and we know it doesn’t work and we have to move into something new, and I believe in community ownership of land, labor, resources and distribution of those resources. And whatever that morphs into is I think what will serve community the best and I’m excited to usher it in by any means necessary.”

“By any means necessary.”

Yes, she’s a communist. Imagine: Nearly all the communist nations ended up with their economies in ruins, with the larger ones  engaging in murder and political oppression on an epic scale, and this woman proclaims that system superior to capitalism while calling the failed ideology “new.” What kind of American votes for someone like this?