Comment Of The Day: “Ethics Quiz: The Paintball Attack”

This is a record for Ethics Alarms; johnburger 2013’s Comment of the Day on the paintball shooting ethics quiz is being honored before it has gotten out of moderation. (Too many links will do that.) It’s also jumping ahead of several other COTD’s on the runway, and the reason is—in addition to the fact that I’ve been feeling lousy recently and catching up requires more time and energy than I’ve had left after trying to keep up with paying work and the daily personal catastrophes—that I find the story of the paintball siege and resulting death raises fascinating and perplexing issues that transcend easy answers in ethics and law.

Some will find jb2013’s (that’s my nickname for him; I hope it’s not presumptuous of me) post provocative. He was reacting to commenter Alizia’s speculation that such episodes are inevitably populated by citizens who are not, shall we say, the sharpest knives in the drawer. It is a topic that Americans are not supposed to talk about of think about: democracy means letting a lot of really, really, dumb, ignorant people having power over your life and influence over your culture and society. As in the short story : “The March of the Morons,” it is the duty of the minority that is not semi-literate, crude, ruled by passions and emotions and lacking the critical thinking and problem solving skills of my Jack Russell Terrier to keep the rest from hurting themselves and lousing up the country beyond repair, but to do so without infringing on their rights and liberty. In today’s dangerously polarized public, both sides regard the other as over-stocked with dolts, and both are, sadly, correct. A majority of Republicans think Barack Obama is a  Muslim. A majority of Democrats think we have just 12 years to address climate change or we are all doomed.  A majority of both believe in ghosts.Most can’t name ten Presidents, or identify half of the Bill of Rights, or tell you the significance of today and tomorrow to world history. No, I don’t think such people are qualified to vote, and the fewer of them who do, the better off we are. Sill, the Founders articulated principles that ensure them the right, and we have to respect that and do the best we can, relying on the “wisdom of crowds,” the phenomenon, unknown to George, James, Ben, Tom and the rest, that seems to make group decisions wiser that the composition of the groups would predict.

Contrary to all the Democratic Presidential candidates, Michelle Obama and others who maintain that America was never great, this has worked out rather well so far.

Watching cable TV is both educational and terrifying—just binge on true crime shows and listen to the interviews with family members and friends of the victims and perps. Observe the cretinous plots and actions of the adulterers, sociopaths, psychopaths,  and petty thieves, thugs, pugs, mugs and Methodists. I literally don’t know people like these, and never have; I’ve never had a relationship of any kind with someone who regularly uses “ain’t no..,”  or who mixes up statue and statute. That’s my bubble: I have to constantly remind myself that my mini-world is the outlier, and my responsibilities lie in the real one.

Here is johnburger2013’s comment on Ethics Quiz: The Paintball Attack:

You raise an interesting point. I live in Houston – where it is frickin’ hot and humid (PLEASE MAKE IT STOP!!!) – and I saw this story on the news. It happened in South Houston. A little bit about South Houston: Stay the hell out of there. At all costs. It is as close to a Hell Hole as one can get without actually being in a Hell Hole. It is an unincorporated area of Harris County, Texas, at the southern edge of the City of Houston. It is politically independent of the City of Houston and is a major petrochemical center in the region, with atmospherics to show for it. It is about 78% Hispanic, where Spanish is the primary language spoken. The median income is $42,615 (as of 2016). It is above the state and national averages in property and violent crimes.* Gang activity is a problem. Just for grins, read through this report from the Texas Department of Public Safety from 2018 to see what gangs operate in here. It’s a fun read.

I don’t know how local news is reported in other cities, but if Houston is any guide, it is no wonder we can’t reason ourselves out of a wet paper bag.** The local reporters interviewed the “victim’s” relatives and they are blood-boilingly stupid/ignorant. Without fail, the victim,and in most cases the perpetrator, is a great person, with a bright future (a future rap or Tejano star in the making), usually smiling in Sunday bests, and never a brain-dead Neanderthal who can’t get out of his/her own way. Generally, the victim’s family members ask that universal question, with tears a-flowin’: “Why did they have to shoot him? He was a good person. He only meant to fight that kid. There was no reason for that kid’s father to shoot him.We just want justice for ______.” When you read or hear “justice” think revenge or payback.

Now, the fellow who shot the would-be-paint-baller is shown in video from the street. He is not interviewed for the nightly news but his driver’s license picture gives us a feel for the type of person he is, as we are shown video of his home with the bicycles and jacked up cars in the driveway. It is very subtle.

*See, https://www.cityrating.com/crime-statistics/texas/south-houston.html

**Ed. Note: Local news here is maddeningly awful. Usually, the nightly anchor is some fetching lass or hunk, who stands just so to highlight her/his figure, arming half cocked to show bulging biceps and toned forearms, while engaging the viewer in the story. The stories are usually pitched with some “click bait” type lede line or sensational declaration, and the anchor then turns to the Big Screen TV screen with the reporter on the scene who will give us the story, not without some kind of pitch to reporter: “Clint, tell us what is happening.” Clint will then acknowledge the introduction with something like “that’s right, Dave, authorities tell us . . . ” Then, Clint will finish his report/update in about 60 seconds, looking severe or stern, with pass back to the studio, “. . . that’s what we have for now. Back to you, Dave.” Dave, then, will thank Clint for that update, pause a few seconds so that we can clear our heads, whereupon Dave will give us a 3 minute report on some heart-warming story of a lady and her squirrel. Dave, then, will turn to Mia and ask her to lede us into the weather, where Mia will talk breathlessly about the heat with the weather person for a few moments and the weather person will take it from there with cool graphics and maps and stuff. Commercial break, three more short stories and SPORTS, SPORTS and more SPORTS.

19 thoughts on “Comment Of The Day: “Ethics Quiz: The Paintball Attack”

  1. Thanks, Jack. I didn’t realize how frustrated I was when I wrote it. It is quite hostile, most probably well placed and well earned. I do think Alizia made a huge point, though, that needs to be discussed openly and honestly and directly.

    jvb

  2. Thanks, JB2013. I like the way you surrounded your subject in such a way as to define it by its (literal) surroundings.

    So sorry I can’t help with the “humdidity,” as a jocular uncle used to say until he spent a summer in a fifth floor walkup with “thief-proof” windows nailed shut to within an inch from the bottom in Spanish Harlem, NYC. Now, if you were living in San Francis … no, wait … don’t throw that fl . . . . Ouch!

  3. Johnburger and Alizia’s comments represent the stereotype or generalization. Our damaged minds have been rigged to react negatively to these sorts of ideas by an enterprise which sees the proper working of reasoned thought detrimental to their ends. If we’re going to call some nonphysical act ‘violence’, I’ll vote for this one with a clear conscience.

    Generalization is generalized as being lazy. In fact, however, “generalization” is the act of observing a set of examples and drawing conclusions. It can be done well or badly, like literally anything which can be done, but it’s nothing other than the application of intelligence. All science is generalization, performed slowly and carefully with instruments on objects. Therefore, if your enemy, attempting to overthrow your ideals through grand elaborate subterfuge, sabotages your children’s minds not to apply intelligence to a particular perceived problem, it’s a safe generalization that the solution of this problem would disrupt their plans.

  4. The reporting on this matter has been absurdly sparse, and it sounds to me as though this is by design. The last reports I have seen on the matter were back almost three weeks ago.

  5. Congratulations on the Comment of the Day!

    News broadcasts these days are all about emotional tear jerking in the shortest amount of time and not about just presenting the facts of the news.

    From what I’ve read, the behavior of the paint-ballers was deplorable, thuggish, gang-like, etc. The only video I’ve been able to find is a news broadcast where they talked to a neighbor that had a bullet hole in his house from the shooting and they talked a little about the multiple shell casings that the police found in the street in front of the incident house – they couldn’t say if all the shell casings came from the same gun at that time.

    From my perspective this incident is all about the facts and the violent criminal behavior. Changing the conversation from the actual facts and violent criminal behaviors to cultural differences, stupidity, dead little Johnny was a good and funny boy with lots of potential, the parents are to blame, etc is a conversation that can take place later but it should not replace the facts about the violent criminal behavior. Don’t fall into the trap that progressives, social justice warriors and deliverers of participation trophies what you to fall in, remain focused on the actual violent criminal behavior. In this case, it appears that little Johnny was a violent thug and now he’s dead as a direct result of his own behavior and that does not exonerate the shooter (the father) if he went beyond reasonable actions and engaged in illegal activity. Facts rule, tear jerking emotional bull shit can take a back seat.

    Why violent criminal behavior happens is very useful information in the long run but first we must get the facts about the actual violent criminal behavior that happened and stop speculating about the “why’s” or “what if’s”.

    Always remember…

    • I think we’ll all agree that determining particular guilt and innocence is of paramount importance. Removing a snake from a baby’s crib is a primary concern while the snake remains there. Once it’s removed, however, the primary concern becomes determining a preventative plan to be built of observations of the circumstances and understanding of the nature of snakes, down to the species for best results. I would agree that bemoaning trivialities such as “that poor snake” is unhelpful and usually deleterious, but I fear likening it to the process of looking for holes in the wall and philosophizing snake behavior with respect to the terrain would also be deleterious. Brushing our hands after killing the snake and walking away as though the job has been finished, in this simplified metaphor, is to deny the full force of human intelligence to rectify the threat of a known potential problem after seeing proof of a particular instance.

      To crassly interpret my own allegory, we’d plug the hole in the wall and rid the house of snakes, therefore a diseased culture known to generate murder and strife by evidence of crime statistics and knowledge of criminal ideas within the ideology per se should be remedied or mitigated rather than left alone.

    • From my perspective this incident is all about the facts and the violent criminal behavior. Changing the conversation from the actual facts and violent criminal behaviors to cultural differences, stupidity, dead little Johnny was a good and funny boy with lots of potential, the parents are to blame, etc is a conversation that can take place later but it should not replace the facts about the violent criminal behavior. Don’t fall into the trap that progressives, social justice warriors and deliverers of participation trophies what you to fall in, remain focused on the actual violent criminal behavior. In this case, it appears that little Johnny was a violent thug and now he’s dead as a direct result of his own behavior and that does not exonerate the shooter (the father) if he went beyond reasonable actions and engaged in illegal activity. Facts rule, tear jerking emotional bull shit can take a back seat.

      It is an interesting perspective: just to keep the focus on the straight facts of the case and that it was brought about solely by ‘criminal behavior’. It should not matter what the cultural background of the kids is, or their ethnicity, nor what role the parents may or may not have. If they had not broken the law, there would have been no incident.

      You say that one must avoid what you describe as a ‘trap’ and you associate this trap with ‘progressives’ and ‘social justice warriors’. I assume that ‘trap’ would be, for the SJWs and Progressives any kind of teary excuse for the boy, and lamentation of his fate; any attempt to ‘locate’ him within some social and cultural matrix which ‘produced’ him. However it happened, he came to America, is an American, and should have been obeying the law. You do say that there may be a “conversation that can take place later” which may involve getting into the details, but that the prime focus should be strictly on the impropriety of the boy’s choices.

  6. ”So sorry I can’t help with the ‘humdidity,’ ”

    As I struggle mightily to contain my “relative humididy” joke…

    Anywho, I used to live in South Houston (on the southern Harris County line/north side of W. Fuqua Road) and will unequivocally attest to its oppressive humidity. Heck, your beer glass, and regrettably its contents, is ~ room temperature by the time you hoist it for a second swig.

    According to many locals, and my transplanted Aunt Clarice, it causes people to succumb to the “heat bitchies,” a chronic…um…behavioral condition always lurking just beneath the surface and easily triggered by a 90-90, 90 °-n-90 % humidity.

  7. This episode is so…. stupid. At any point, in this debacle, I could take three random sentences from the reporting on this and come away with two headache-inducing tidbits. I think most everything regarding the meat and potatoes of this tragedy has been pointed out, I’d just like to point out a little bit of minutiae here and call out one of my more usual suspects: Media coverage.

    JB13 pointed out the Demographics of the area: 78% Hispanic. While watching the coverage of the situation, and particularly the clips of grieving family members, I realized that I hadn’t known that the victim was Hispanic. That doesn’t change much for me, personally, but with that information I was able to put a couple of things together:

    The fact that the victim was Hispanic, but I didn’t know about it meant that the father wasn’t white. If the father was white, we would be hearing about racism, and racial dynamics, we would know that the victim was Hispanic, the shooter was white, and racism was involved somehow. Because of course we would. I don’t know this is true, but I’ll bet $20 on it and give you odds.

    Next, it always struck me as strange that someone had 15 friends with paintball guns willing to go to someone’s house and attempt to call them out so they could fight. I have no frame of reference for anything even close to that, and I grew up in a pretty rough area. Adding in details like the people lived in an area riddled with gang crime simultaneously brings clarity and makes this more idiotic. I wonder why we haven’t heard about that?

    Finally, because he isn’t white and because the media isn’t pushing a racism angle, this is probably the last we hear about it. Without the anger baked in to a charge of racism, and because of the demographics involved, and because 15 young men, regardless of their armament, constitute deadly force, and because the media is loathe to report stories where guns are anything but clearly bad, there’s nothing that’s going to keep legs on this…. Which is actually probably for the best… But it’s unusual.

    Juxtapose this with the case of Renisha McBride;

    19 Year old Renisha was driving home drunk at the wee hours of the morning, struck a parked car, and left the scene of her accident, she walked to a nearby home, and started knocking on the door… I’m trying to use neutral language, but “knocking” doesn’t really cover it, she was drunk, hurt, and in a state of panic. The homeowner, Theodore Wafer, shot McBride through his screen door.

    This was almost certainly an overreaction, but Wafer says he was afraid, there was a history of gun crime in his neighborhood, it was between 3 and 4 AM, and from his perspective, a crazy person was trying to come through his door. There are ways that the McBride shooting are different from the Solis shooting, but there are enough parallels that I think it’s comparable.

    The obvious difference, at least in the eyes of the media, was that McBride was black and Wafer was white, so it was obvious the old white man was racist, and that’s why he shot her. Wafer was also found guilty and is now in year 4 of his 17 year sentence.

  8. Jack writes: “…that such episodes are inevitably populated by citizens who are not, shall we say, the sharpest knives in the drawer. It is a topic that Americans are not supposed to talk about of think about: democracy means letting a lot of really, really, dumb, ignorant people having power over your life and influence over your culture and society. As in the short story : “The March of the Morons,” it is the duty of the minority that is not semi-literate, crude, ruled by passions and emotions and lacking the critical thinking and problem solving skills of my Jack Russell Terrier to keep the rest from hurting themselves and lousing up the country beyond repair, but to do so without infringing on their rights and liberty.

    There are a range — a vast range really — of things “Americans are not supposed to think about”. I would say that the list of things that cannot be openly talked about contains a large number of the most significant issues.

    For this reason, now, a great deal of ‘repressed material’ bubbles to the surface. A crisis takes shape. Not only in America, where the repression has been extreme, but all throughout the Occidental world: various people, various groups, various intellectual circles, rise up in reaction to facets of postwar hyper-liberalism. If Lippmann could say, with academic authority, that the culture was ‘sick’, it is at the least interesting to listen to the ideas and opinions of people, some of them uninformed (not sufficiently formed, like myself) who make an effort to describe what they see going on in the world around them.

    What I notice is that everyone is engaged in this! Here on this blog, on various YouTube channels where different authorities, semi-authorities and pseudo-authorities hold forth and lecture: people attempt to interpret their world.

    What interests me about Lippmann is that he seems to propose a non-democratic solution. He says, essentially, ‘the people are incapable of ruling themselves, and they are definitely incapable or administering government’. And what he proposes is, it seems, intervention by capable interests: people who act for the good of the nation and its people. But in the Postwar world that he participated in, can it be truthful be said that the ‘right’ people took the lead? OK, but if you answer ‘yes’, why is it then that things are turning out as they are?

    “…it is the duty of the minority that is not semi-literate, crude, ruled by passions and emotions and lacking the critical thinking and problem solving skills [ . . .] to keep the rest from hurting themselves and lousing up the country beyond repair, but to do so without infringing on their rights and liberty.”

    (I believe in your dog, I really do, but I had to remove the reference for purposes of ‘continuity’!)

    Here is a quote from Walter Lippmann’s The Public Philosophy: The Decline and Revival of the Western Society. (1955)

    4.The Paralysis of Governments

    PERHAPS, before going any further, I should say that I am a liberal democrat and have no wish to disenfranchise my fellow citizens. My hope is that both liberty and democracy can be preserved before the one destroys the other. Whether this can be done is the question of our time, what with more than half the world denying and despairing of it. Of one thing we may be sure. If it is to be done at all, we must be uninhibited in our examination of our condition. And since our condition is manifestly connected with grave errors in war and peace that have been committed by democratic governments, we must adopt the habit of thinking as plainly about the sovereign people as we do about the politicians they elect. It will
    not do to think poorly of the politicians and to talk with bated breath about the voters. No more than the kings before them should the people be hedged with divinity. Like all princes and rulers, like all sovereigns, they are ill-served by flattery and adulation. And they are betrayed by the servile hypocrisy which tells them that what is true and what is false, what is right and what is wrong, can be determined by their votes.

    If I am right in what I have been saying, there has developed in this century a functional derangement of
    the relationship between the mass of the people and the government. The people have acquired power which they are incapable of exercising, and the governments they elect have lost powers which they must recover if they are to govern. What then are the true boundaries of the people’s power? The answer cannot be simple. But for a rough beginning let us say that the people are able to give and to withhold their consent to being governed — their consent to what the government asks of them, pro-
    poses to them, and has done in the conduct of their affairs. They can elect the government. They can remove it. They can approve or disapprove its performance. But they cannot administer the government. They cannot themselves perform. They cannot normally initiate and propose the necessary legislation. A mass cannot govern. The people, as Jefferson said, are not “qualified to exercise themselves the Executive Department; but they are qualified to name the person who shall exercise it… They are not qualified to legislate; with us therefore they only choose the legislators.”

    Where mass opinion dominates the government, there is a morbid derangement of the true functions of power. The derangement brings about the enfeeblement, verging on paralysis, of the capacity to govern. This breakdown in the constitutional order is the cause of the precipitate and catastrophic decline of Western society. It may, if it cannot be arrested and reversed, bring about the fall of the West.

    The propensity to this derangement and the vulnerability of our society to it have a long and complex his-
    tory. Yet the more I have brooded upon the events which I have lived through myself, the more astounding and significant does it seem that the decline of the power and influence and self-confidence of the Western democracies has been so steep and so sudden. We have fallen far in a short span of time. However long the underlying erosion had been going on, we were still a great and powerful
    and flourishing community when the First World War began. What we have seen is not only decay — though much of the old structure was dissolving-but something which can be called an historic catastrophe.

    I cannot really say, of course, but it seems to me that we have approached a period of time in which authority will be exercised even against all the ‘noise’ of an hysterical general society. Those who do this may say, with Lippmann, “we are liberal democrats and have no wish to disenfranchise our fellow citizens” and yet, to maintain ‘order’, they will certainly intervene. Essentially, it will be a para-military effort. That is what I see taking shape in any case.

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