Ethics Warm-Up, 11/23/2019: Sitting Around In Airports Edition

Personally, I’d prefer the Baby Shark Dance.

I have been in the Las Vegas airport for more than an hour now, and the only music continuously playing has been Wayne Newton, circa 1965. You know, “Red Roses for a Blue Lady,” and “Danke Schoen.” No wonder Millennials think we’re lame.

Las Vegas is depressing. Everywhere you go, there are lonely, aging, shabbily-dressed people sitting around looking lost, or chain smoking while they roboticly lose their money at garishly flashing gambling machines. It occured to me that the same addiction processes might be at work here as hwatever causes people today to stare at their smart phones rather than interact with the people around them. I saw a lot of that in Vegas too.

Today is my wedding anniversary, and I’m spending most of it in airplanes and airports. We chose November 23, changing the date by one day, because I didn’t want our anniversary to coincide with JFK’s assassination. ( Then my father, perverse as always, chose to die on my birthday…). Yesterday I had dinner with seven lively, intelligent people ranging in age from 25 to 45, and asked them if they knew the significance of the date, November 22.  None did.

1. What IS this? The band Coldplay made news yesterday when it announced that it would no longer tour because of climate change. Presumably they are trying to avoid the hypocrite label being affixed to celebrity climate hysterics whose carbon footprint is approximately that of whole towns, as they jet around the world to tell everyone that they are doomed. Or were they just sick of touring, which is, I say mid-ethics tour, no fun after the novelty wears off, and wanted virtue points through grandstanding? This we do know: whether Coldplay tours or just hangs out in recording studios will have no impact on climate change whatsoever. I assume they know that.

2. Virginia counties are discussing becoming “gun sanctuaries, in anticipation of the Democrat majority legislature and governor enacting gun-hostile legislation. Whether it is guns or illegal aliens, this is a dangerous and unethical trend. States, cities and counties must not be able to just defy the law. There needs to be a set of legal penalties established for this conduct.

3. More from the Old Dominion State! Historical airbrushing and statue-toppling continues in Charlottesville, which proved that it’s not just Robert E. Lee and Confederate generals that it wants erased from history. The City Council voted to remove a statue depicting Meriwether Lewis, William Clark and Sacagawea, their Shoshone interpreter, because the latter isn’t represented in a posture that activists approve of.

The statue is being erased not because it depicts Lewis and Clark, but because Sacagawea isn’t standing like Wonder Woman, or something. Critics say it  shows the Native American teenager “cowering and recoiling.” This, my friends, is confirmation bias. Emma George, who counts the interpreter among her ancestors, says, “I can say for myself, it did bring shame. It made me feel sadness and worthlessness, and that’s not how I was brought up,”  Apparently she was brought up to be irrationally triggered by artworks, and to take statues personally. I recommend consulting with a psychiatrist. It’s not the statue’s fault.

The woman was relatively low-level member of the expedition whose reputation has been absurdly inflated solely because of her gender and race. Had a white man performed exactly the same function, he would be a historical trivia point at most. The statue doesn’t give Sacagawea (apparently the “j” in the name’s spelling is now politically incorrect) sufficient status in comparison with her bosses, so the “woke” would rather have no representation of her at all.

Good thinking.

15 thoughts on “Ethics Warm-Up, 11/23/2019: Sitting Around In Airports Edition

  1. Interesting. Meriwether Lewis IS among my ancestors, and family lore has it that Sacajawea was actually freed from slavery by the expedition and returned to the Shoshone tribe from whence she came. Can’t speak to the accuracy of the lore..

  2. Thought you should know, the “gun sanctuaries” link goes to the wrong place.

    Anyway, I read this “gun sanctuaries” hypothetical in a comment on another blog, the context intended to mirror the case where an illegal alien murders somebody after a “sanctuary city” declines to turn him over to ICE.


    “…imagine if the federal government passed a gun control law that said “people like X cannot buy rifles.” Whatever value of X is meaningful to you. Crazy people, felons, children, whatever. Also, imagine there is no 2nd Amendment guaranteeing the right to bear arms (as to make this feel something like illegal immigration, as there is no right or guaranteed right to enter another country without permission). Gun ownership is entirely at the whim of the government, hopefully expressing the will of the people, like in many (most?) other nations. Republicans howl “No gun is illegal!” Prominent conservatives march in parades celebrating X people with guns. The Republican National Convention invites an X person with a rifle up on stage and everyone stands and applauds him instead of calling the ATF. Whenever a Republican is President he issues executive orders tying the hands of the ATF in enforcing the “no rifles for X people” laws. Republican states and cities refuse to cooperate with the ATF in enforcing the “no rifles for X people” laws, to the point of local police apprehending X people committing crimes with rifles, and after they’ve served their time, handing them their rifle back, putting them out on the street and refusing to tell the ATF about the violation of the federal gun law. And then immediately after putting the X person with his rifle back on the street, he goes and murders someone close to you.”

    If this happens for real, hoo boy there’ll be trouble…

    Also, I can’t get the quote tags to work, if you want to put that quote in a block go ahead.

  3. 2. I have read quite a bit about the “Second Amendment Sanctuary” resolutions being passed by counties all across the country. A county that neighbors my own passed one a year or more ago. Most of them that I have seen use approximately the same language, stating firmly that they will not enforce laws that unconstitutionally restrict second amendment rights. Since county officials still, as I did periodically throughout my 40+ years in law enforcement, take oaths to support, uphold and defend the constitution of the state and of the United States, which I presume includes the second amendment, I fail to see how or why there could be “legal penalties” for passing such laws. Should the time come that states are actually significantly infringing on second amendment rights, these laws coming into play will be the least of the worries of those enforcing the restrictions.
    Of course, I support secession and in many cases jury nullification, so my bias against tyranny is likely in play.

    • Interesting comment, however from my perspective, I see Jack’s point — everyone has legal recourse to an unconstitutional law — the Federal courts. If they refuse to uphold the Constitution’s text, we are stuck with what they do rule. That’s been the way of things since Marbury v. Madison.

      What I strongly disagree with is Jack’s conflation of illegal immigration sanctuaries and sanctuaries to defend the second amendment. The two are not the same, and their only similarity is the word “sanctuary.” Sanctuary cities for immigration are not violating the law. It is not their responsibility to enforce federal law, and if the cities decide to order their law enforcement agencies not to assist Federal law enforcement, that is perfectly legitimate if the state does not have a law requiring them to assist. States cannot enforce federal law, they can only help — Arizona v. United States has clearly pointed this out.

      “Second Amendment sanctuaries” are actually engaging in an illegitimate process. State law is required to be enforced by local agencies, and unlike federal-state relationships, the cities and counties are not separate sovereigns. Just as localities cannot pass strict gun-control laws if the state has a preemptive statute, localities cannot preempt state law by passing resolutions. Refusing to enforce laws that are binding on them is actionable already — the local law enforcement agencies in question can be taken to court and ordered to enforce state law, unlike immigration “sanctuaries.”

      So while I am completely sympathetic with Second Amendment sanctuaries, they are not legitimate exercises of local government power, as these local governments are clearly subordinate to state government.

  4. I lived down the street from the Lewis and Clark statue in Charlottesville for several years. It’s entitled, “Their First View of the Pacific.” Sacagawea seems to be looking closer in the foreground, perhaps at the crashing waves, the like of which she would never before have seen, while Lewis and Clark are looking out to the horizon. Beneath her are the words, “THE GUIDE SACAGAWEA,” which I think rather tidily proves her inclusion was meant to honor her memory, not to diminish her in any way. (A separate and adjacent plaque, added much later to provide more detail about her, spells it “Sacajawea,” which is evidently the spelling preferred by the Lehmi Shoshone tribe.)

  5. The sanctuary law in Appomattax county was discussed on the Larry O’Connor show on WMAL. I wanted to call in but driving prohibited that.

    Sanctuary laws, no matter what they protect, are the surest way to a lawless society. What will we protect next shoplifters who claim they are destitute?

    I understand why these discreet legislative districts go this route but just because I understand it and agree that gun ownership is a sacrosanct right it does not mean I agree with this tactic. Unlike the claim that access to health care or abortion is a right, gun ownership is actually an enumerated specific right so the appropriate avenues to take area court challenge, vote out the legislators who try to restrict your rights and if all else fails move to a state that does not depend on Federal employment that attracts bureaucratic control freaks.

    It’s funny I once thought about moving to Va to avoid Maryland’s autocratic government. I am glad I didn’t. I have WV as my option. Manchin may be a Democrat and Justice is a carpet bagger but Justice’s term will end and Manchin is sane and reasonable.

  6. Abrahamson said the statue shows Sacagawea “cowering and recoiling.” She said it should be in a location where it can become an “object of discussion of America’s intolerant past.”

    Abrahamson previously came to the city in 2009 when a plaque was erected to honor Sacagawea. However, Emma George, another descendant, and Abrahamson’s children recently saw it for the first time.

    “I can say for myself, it did bring shame. It made me feel sadness and worthlessness, and that’s not how I was brought up,” Dustina Abrahamson, one of Abrahamson’s daughters, said as she struggled to put her emotions into words.

    George, with her voice breaking, said, “This morning I went out there to look at that statue. It did not make me feel good at all. It was humiliating.”

    But hold on. The American Indian cultures of N America did not just suffer ‘intolerance’, they were displaced and destroyed. It is hardly possible that Sacagawea could have had any other *posture* (in all senses) in relation to her role. The Whites were taking over all the lands and the entire continent. However, some natives allied themselves with the conquering Whites and it stands to reason that this Sacagawea did.

    …an “object of discussion of America’s intolerant past.”

    What exactly is to be discussed? Or who will frame the conversation to be had? All of Europe was conquered by Rome. And the process of *civilization* is one where the conquered elites then carry out internal processes of conquest, or the further penetration of culture. Out of this Europe arose.

    To see the statue ’caused shame’? But for American Indians who largely lost everything how could any other feeling arise? Pride? Joy? There would be no other possible feeling except profound loss.

    The theatrical aspect of these bizarre *rehearsals* must be seen. The whole show is totally absurd. These are enactments of resentment. They have a game-aspect. Emma George returned in the evening, made coffee, and watched some sitcom on TeeVee. Or is she implying that she went home to her earthmound home and then went out to listen to the earth-spirits whistle in the trees and commune with the Spirits that will reconquer to stolen earth?

    That former world she cries over . . . is no more. It is a question of where to place focus. True, that *whole world* is no more. But there is another *entire world* . . . and that one is *life to be lived*.

    People seem to be going mad and each in a unique and different way. But then everyone needs a struggle. Without a struggle What are we?

    • Added thought: It is interesting to hold in the mind that those two men in the statue, Lewis & Clark, were of Germanic descent (in the widest cultural sense). Just a few short centuries back they were running around the wild woods of Europe hunting pigs while dressed in smelly animal skins while wielding spears . . . and they too had their faces terrifyingly painted! And any one of them, or their women, could have served a very similar role for the conquering Romans as did Sacagawea.

  7. In 2016, I went to a bachelor party in Atlantic City, and late at night, we passed through the Trump Taj Mahal casino. Seeing all the people staring a blinking machines with eyes dead to the world made me think it was quite appropriate the building was named for a giant tomb in India.

  8. I saw a segment on 60 Minutes last Sunday about the Red Flag law in Colorado. Apparently a number of counties / sheriffs are declaring themselves 2nd Amendment sanctuary counties and stating they will not enforce a Red Flag ruling if issued. It certainly brought to mind comparisons with sanctuary cities for immigrants — but the left will never acknowledge the parallel. And I tend to agree that this is really not a good idea for the rule of law in our country in either instance.

  9. 2) “Sanctuary cities” aren’t defying the law. While I don’t think it’s good to encourage illegal immigration…”Sanctuary cities” are actually an act of Federalism at it’s core. Localities have made deals with Federal Law enforcement to use local law enforcement to pursue *national* laws when in reality local law enforcement at a minimum only has to pursue State Laws and local ordinances. They make this deal to receive various types of Federal funding, some of which increases money to local law enforcement.

    If a locality chooses to forgo these federal funds by not pursuing national laws, there’s no illegality here nor is there anything *inherently* unethical about the practice.

    • Now I don’t know how the analogy holds for “Gun sanctuaries” other than they are ethical as a form of civil disobedience as long as they are willing to suffer the consequences. Because if Virginia curtails gun rights then Virginia is in defiance of the Constitution at that point.

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