Sundown Ethics, 2/20/2020: Post Nevada Debate Mourning Edition

I hope you had a nice day…

The reaction among the Facebook Borg after last night’s car wreck of a debate was interesting; very muted, subdued, remarkably few comments regarding the debate, some denial, and some epicly stupid comments. I use four classes of the Deranged on Facebook: there are four or five genuine friends who are in clinically dire condition but who also don’t take serious disagreements personally. There are the inexplicable Facebook Friends who I don’t care if I upset them or not, or, franfly, if I ever see r hear from them again. Then there are nice people who I like and respect when they aren’t reciting back resistance talking points drilled into their brains like in a Mengele experiment. I leave them alone, even when one of them writes something unbelievably stupid. Today’s example: the kind, funny, brilliant actress and teacher who wrote, “Bernie and Warren are not extremist left. Sorry. They demand systemic change to support the people.” I had to wrestle myself to the ground not to respond to that one. And she’s a teacher.  Any more questions about why so many twenty-somethings are hypnotized by Sanders’ Bolshevik leftovers?

In the fourth class are strangers who are friends of friends. I randomly pick off a few of these every day for fun and practice.

1. Speaking of denial: here’s a Twitter exchange passed along by Arthur in Maine:

On the related topic of Bernie supporters’ often ugly rhetoric, it is amusing to read the same people who have used the actions of most extreme of President Trump’s supporters to characterize him protesting that Bernie bears no responsibility for his followers’ misconduct.

2. What’s going on here? When asked on Fox News’ “Your World With Neil Cavuto” if President Trump should be given credit his economy reducing black unemployment to its lowest level ever, Democratic South Carolina Rep. James Clyburn, the House Whip, replied, “Come on, Neil, because it is not true … I’m saying that the African American unemployment is not the lowest it has ever been unless you count slavery. We were fully employed during slavery. It all depends on how you measure this up.” Then he went on to say that Barack Obama deserves the credit for the good economic numbers. Of course he did.

That first statement, however, is a puzzler. It isn’t helped any by the fact that he didn’t say what he evidently meant, which was, “African American unemployment is not the lowest it has ever been IF (not unless) you count slavery.”  Was he joking? Clyburn is not typically a laugh riot. If a white Republican said that, his home would be surrounded by protesters with torches in a trice. My working theory is that Clyburn had no good answer, so he just uttered the first silly thing he could think of, like the defense attorney I have mentioned before who jumped up to disrupt a devastating cross examination by his adversary by shouting, “Objection, Your Honor! The word “test” is not an adverb!” (This is unethical, by the way.)

3.  As my father twirls in his grave. The Boy Scouts, as was feared, have declared bankruptcy. The organization’s fatal flaw was not its failure to change with the times, but its over-eagerness to mollify critics. Once a God-centered organization for instilling traditional values in boys, it was pressured to become “inclusive,” and could never find a viable safe point between its religion-based objections to homosexuality and the group’s inevitable appeal to pederasts. Once BSA’s core mission had been compromised, the rationale for the group’s existence eroded.

I suspect that the organization was doomed because appreciation and prcatice of the skills and activities the Boy Scouts championed had become quaint and uninteresting to the cynical, cell phone addicted, computer game obsesses and pot inhaling kids of the 21st Century. Knot-tying, whittling, bird-watching, camping? Being a Boy Scout once was cool; now it is considered a proof of membership in the nerd/dork/geek continuum.

All I can say is that my father believed that the Boy Scouts saved his life, and instilled in  him the values that his father, who had abandoned his family, did not.

4.  Bloomberg height follow-up:

Warren is listed at 5’8″, which I suspect is exaggerated, Warren being Warren.

Res ipsa loquitur, though it wouldn’t help Bloomberg if he were 6’6″ if he can’t present himself any better than he did last night.

On a height-related ethics note, sharp-eyed Ann Althouse picked up that Senator Klobuchar was standing on a box behind her podium.

You know, like Alan Ladd in “Shane.” And Mike Dukakis. Is this unethical? It is a visual misrepresentation, and an intentional one. Women, however, often have the ingrained disadvantage in electoral politics that I wrote about in that post on Bloomberg’s height: human beings in this culture associate size with strength and leadership. What’s a short–indeed, an average size woman to do? Wear 6 inch heels? Hit the weighs and the PEDs?

If you can’t beat ’em, do you join ’em, or use a box to pretend you’ve joined them? i can’t blame the Senator for not wanting to appear like George Bailey when he’s stuck in Mr. Potter’s special guest chair…

5. Ah, that Virginia legislature! This week it was blocked from banning all “assault weapons,” but the state Senate voted unanimously  for new legislation requiring licenses for art therapists. The proposed law doesn’t list the requirements for obtaining such a license, but decrees that a newly created board staffed primarily by practicing art therapists will decide what obstacles it wants thrown in the way of potential competitors

Protests Reason, which has a long-running objection to such laws,

That’s a common practice when it comes to licensing laws. It’s also one of the primary reasons why occupational licensing limits job opportunities. Boards that are controlled by members of the industry they are supposed to regulate frequently become anti-competitive cartels more interested in limiting who can do certain types of work. The most egregious example is probably Louisiana’s ridiculous florist licensing board. Art therapy is no more dangerous than arranging flowers. It’s a growing practice—one that is, sadly, already licensed in some form by 12 other states—that incorporates psychotherapy with artistic media, usually by having patients express themselves through art. Practitioners say it can help individuals cope with stress and keep mental disorders under control. Should that require a permission slip from the government?

The justification for such licensing is often, shall we say, contrived.  The Virginia Board of Health Professions endorsed the new license, arguing in part that special skills were necessary for art therapists since “basic art tools, such as paint and glue, which contain toxic chemicals that could cause harm should they be inhaled or ingested, scissors which have sharp edges capable of causing cuts or punctures, and objects such as clay, if thrown, could be considered potentially dangers.”

11 thoughts on “Sundown Ethics, 2/20/2020: Post Nevada Debate Mourning Edition

  1. “You know, like Alan Ladd in “Shane.” And Mike Dukakis. Is this unethical? It is a visual misrepresentation, and an intentional one.”

    And Ewan McGregor in “Star Wars: The Phantom Menace” stood on a box to make Obi-Wan look a little closer to Liam Neeson’s height.

    Did we ever decide if it was ethical for defendants in criminal courts to dress in clothes they never wear, put on a pair of glasses and cover their tattoos? For better or for worse, people are judged by their appearance whether they are defending themselves in court or running for President. If looking taller gets people listening to their ideas, such as they are, I don’t fault them for trying to get past superficial height prejudice.

    After all, we don’t want a repeat of the Ross Perot/Munchkin debacle from SNL:
    https://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/video/bush-clinton-perot-debate-cold-opening/n10302

    (Sorry about the length of the video. I couldn’t find a shorter cut. The relevant portion is at the tail end.

    • I remember that one well.

      My position in legal ethics is that it is unethical to materially alter the appearance of the defendant, such as making him seem handicapped when he is not, or weaker than he is. I continue to be bothered by the practice of putting glasses on defendants with 20-20 vision.

      I think faking one’s height is material for a political candidate. I would not trust a candidate who wore a toupe.

  2. “Basic art tools, such as paint and glue, which contain toxic chemicals that could cause harm should they be inhaled or ingested, scissors which have sharp edges capable of causing cuts or punctures, and objects such as clay, if thrown, could be considered potentially dangers.”

    Clearly, the vaunted Virginia Board of Health Professions has a communications department staffed by Monty Python and Babylon Bee alumni. Best laugh I’ve had all day. Thank you.

  3. Enrollment in the Boy Scouts is way down but my understanding is that the bankruptcy was caused by the number of sex abuse cases brought against them, not declining enrollment.

    I’ve heard various theories about why enrollment fell off a cliff. I’ll tell you what happened to my own troop: It was the mothers who killed it. When I was a boy, we went camping. The boys organized everything, we cooked our own food, we played rough games, we pushed the softer boys to keep up. The point was for the boys to learn leadership and independence and toughen up. No women came on our hikes. About 15 years ago, I accompanied a friend and his son on a hike. To my amazement, we were accompanied by half a dozen mothers who nagged everybody to slow down because Charlie was tired or had asthma or some such, halted the column to apply band-aids to a 16-year-old who had scratched himself, cooked all the food, gave bossy suggestions (dumb ones, I might add) about where and how to pitch the tents, intervened to prevent the boys from roughhousing, and killed all possibility of the kind of conversations around the campfire that we had when I was a teenager. The men on the trip with me agreed that it was no fun and that we would never have joined the troop if it had been like that when we were kids, but they said they were powerless to resist the pushy mothers who insisted on coming, especially since a lot of the boys actually wanted them there.

    • “When I was a boy, we went camping. The boys organized everything, we cooked our own food, we played rough games, we pushed the softer boys to keep up. The point was for the boys to learn leadership and independence and toughen up. No women came on our hikes. About 15 years ago, I accompanied a friend and his son on a hike. To my amazement, we were accompanied by half a dozen mothers who nagged everybody to slow down because Charlie was tired or had asthma or some such, halted the column to apply band-aids to a 16-year-old who had scratched himself, cooked all the food, gave bossy suggestions (dumb ones, I might add) about where and how to pitch the tents, intervened to prevent the boys from roughhousing, and killed all possibility of the kind of conversations around the campfire that we had when I was a teenager. The men on the trip with me agreed that it was no fun and that we would never have joined the troop if it had been like that when we were kids, but they said they were powerless to resist the pushy mothers who insisted on coming, especially since a lot of the boys actually wanted them there.”

      We did it too. I’m still not completely sure about that approach. I’m all for having “guy time” without women around. I can’t imagine stopping for something as relatively trivial as a scratch, and no one wants to hear you’re tired. Asthma or other chronic illnesses are another issue, it’s the sufferer’s responsibility to know his limits and make them clearly known to the leadership BEFORE he tries to take a 2-mile hike up Old Baldy that he’s not up to and never will be up to. It’s also the leadership’s responsibility not to push someone like that beyond his capabilities and possibly put him in danger. Some of this other stuff walks a fine line. There’s a fine line between “playing rough games” and “pushing the softer boys to keep up” and bullying and abusing. Stopping the boys from roughhousing should be a given, you shouldn’t need the moms there for that. It’s dangerous and can open the door to actual fighting or worse, and a fight that results in someone needing to be taken to the ER is going to put a damper on things, to say the least. There’s also a fine line between campfire conversations that guys have with no women around and telling pornographic and racist stories that are never ok.

      I WILL say that none of the moms ever came along, and most of us would have been embarrassed to admit we wanted them there. Then again, some of the moms were divorcees who took the opportunity to have a little extracurricular fun when the kid was away (we saw one such mom’s greaser boyfriend leaving as we pulled up to drop her son off and gave him grief about it – some of it saying his mom was a whore and asking what she’d want to do one of us [we were 14-16 and starting to get obsessed with sex] – for the rest of the year). I think those guys who said they were powerless to resist the pushy moms need to go look for their balls in their wives’ purses.

    • My only experience with the Boy Scouts in recent years was having to vote to tell them they were no longer welcome in our church. It was mainly the female scout leader that was the problem. She repeatedly lied to our committee, tried to cover up a fire one of the boys set in the church (for the second time), and accused our church members of being perverts when they reported that teenage girls and boys were found sleeping together unaccompanied in the church (the BSA Venturing program). We were the third or fourth church they had to leave because of such behavior, but no one in scouting would stand up to this woman.

      Scouting is dying in my town. I wonder why.

  4. “basic art tools, such as paint and glue, which contain toxic chemicals that could cause harm should they be inhaled or ingested, scissors which have sharp edges capable of causing cuts or punctures, and objects such as clay, if thrown, could be considered potentially dangers.”

    If there were a government functionary installed to comb through the vast library of historical social media archives searching for examples of this sort of language being used outside a slapstick comedy routine for the sake of finding subversive elements to cart away to forced labor penal colonies, would that be unethical? Asking for a friend.

  5. The most obvious meaning of Clyburn’s statement is that he feels that blacks were never better off than they were under slavery. This would actually explain a lot of Democratic policies. A less obvious interpretation is that he feels that making Blacks work for a living is comparable to enslaving them. This also would explain a lot of Democratic policies as well. I am torn as to which one is closer to what Clyburn actually believes.

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