Monday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/20/2020: Phantom Patriots Day Edition

The Battle of Menotomy, April 19, 2020.

“One if by land, and two if by sea
And I on the opposite shore will be
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
To every Middlesex village and farm
For the country folk to be up and to arm!”

Today, the third Monday in April,  is supposed to be Patriots Day in Massachusetts (and  few other states.) It absolutely should be a national holiday, as it celebrates the battles of Concord and Lexington as well as the rides of Paul Revere and his fellow messengers the night before. I typed the excerpt above from Longfellow’s “Paul Revere’s Ride” from memory; I wonder how many students today  have even heard of the poem, or Concord and Lexington, for that matter.

The original holiday was on April 19, the date of both battles, but Arlington, Massachusetts, where I hail from, was actually the site of a bigger battle than either on the same day. On their way back from Concord after being soundly beaten at the bridge, the Redcoats marched through the town of Menotomy (Arlington now), where 5,100 militia men from surrounding towns had gathered after, unfortunately, the British had marched through the Menotomy on the way to Lexington Green with little resistance.  The volunteers, stationed around houses, stone walls, fields and barns, did considerable damage to the already limping British in the fighting that followed, but Arlington residents have always been a bit sheepish about the timing of the fight, and historians regard it as  anti-climactic following the tragedy at Lexington and the surprise victory at Concord.

Patriots Day is a big  deal in Boston, where the Boston Marathon is run annually on that date. The Red Sox also play a unique 11 am game, so spectators can leave the park and watch the finish of the race. All gone this year, of course.

That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t remember, and honor, the heroes, victims and events of 1775 that made the United States of America possible.

1. This is the kind of thing that will lead to serious back-lash against the pandemic dictators. The city of San Clemente was alarmed that some teens, bored with pplaying video games all day, every day, continued to skateboard in a local skate park despite orders that all parks be closed. Its solution?  Fill the park, at taxpayer expense, with 37 tons of sand. The money to build the park was raised by a nonprofit coalition of local families who wanted a place for their kids to be able to skate safely, and they were not even notified that the park would be filled with sand, according to KCAL-TV.

I wonder what the actual risk of infection is for skateboarders who pass each other?

Time for this clip again:

2. “Bias makes you stupid,” Ann Althouse edition. Retired professor Althouse quotes the Harvard Magazine piece about home schooling that I touched on here. She quotes from the anti-homeschooling article from a Harvard prof, noting that Professor Bartholet “recommends a presumptive ban” on homeschooling:

“We have an essentially unregulated regime in the area of homeschooling,… That means, effectively, that people can homeschool who’ve never gone to school themselves, who don’t read or write themselves.”

Althouse continues: Bartholet notes that some of these parents are “extreme religious ideologues” who question science and promote female subservience and white supremacy. Children should “grow up exposed to…democratic values, ideas about nondiscrimination and tolerance of other people’s viewpoints.”… Bartholet’s idea of a “presumptive ban” would put the burden on the parents to meet some sort of standard that would be set by legislation. Do those who are insulting Bartholet support letting parents keep their children out of school on a mere claim that they are educating their children at home?”

In my case?

Other than a good faith showing that the parents have the time and intention to make sure the child learns basic skills and have access to sufficient resources, with periodic checks to ensure that the parents are meeting that commitment?


As for what the parents teach, that’s none of the state’s business beyond the most minimal standards, especially after it has proven that its own efforts have been disastrously incompetent.

3.  The Times is getting worse, as hard to believe as that is. Here are the three headlines above the fold in the Sunday New York Times:

  • “What the Next Year (or Two) May Look Like”

Ethics verdict: Fake news, Future News division. Genuine news is what has happened, not what might happen. Such predictions are so filled with bias and lack of accountability as to be worthless.

  • “Rising Shortage Of Dialysis Units Alarms Doctors”

Ethics Verdict: Fake news. Emotions are not news, nor are presumptions about anything makes anyone else “feel.” The news is that there is  a shortage of dialysis units. That would be a mid-A section headline, perhaps. Using the emotions header is scaremongering.

But here is the really unethical headline, to a story contributed to by Maggie Haberman, the Times’ assigned Trump assassin:

G.O.P. Aiming To Make China The Scapegoat

That is a pure partisan headline, based on biased assumptions and slanted analysis. The Democratic/ “resistance”/mainstream media slur that the President is responsible for the spread of China’s virus is the “hoax” that Trump said it was, and this story is a classic example. There is no evidence in the article that the Republicans are trying to make China a “scapegoat,” with the very use of that word conveying the false narrative that China isn’t fully responsible for the pandemic. If you are blamed for what you did, you’re no scapegoat. What the GOP and the President are doing, and have to do, is to counter the propaganda, being unethically pushed by the Times and others, that the President should be blamed. The article is opinion presented as news. At very least, I expected an unattributed statement from some supposed Republican insider that the party had a meeting and decided to “scapegoat” China. Nope. This is all a theory by Times reporters.


31 thoughts on “Monday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/20/2020: Phantom Patriots Day Edition

  1. 3. Still waiting for Jack Marshall to declare the Axis of Unethical Conduct’s use of the Virus thing a lettered Plan to undo the results of the 2016 election.

    Personal note: Mrs. OB and I were married forty-five years ago yesterday on the actual Patriot’s Day in her home town of Saugus, Mass. It was a Saturday but I think Patriot’s Day was even then celebrated on the following Monday because we had planned the wedding for that weekend because we’d have Monday off from work. She lived in Arlington until age 8.

    I remember as a young married person being at a wedding and a fellow young married person asking a patriarch of the bride’s family who’d just celebrated his and his wife’s (to us, then incomprehensible) fiftieth wedding anniversary what the secret was to staying married so long. The patriarch blinked once or twice before answering, “Never got divorced!”

    • I remember as a young married person being at a wedding and a fellow young married person asking a patriarch of the bride’s family who’d just celebrated his and his wife’s (to us, then incomprehensible) fiftieth wedding anniversary what the secret was to staying married so long. The patriarch blinked once or twice before answering, “Never got divorced!”

      I once saw an interview with Johnny Cash where in answer to the question “How have you and your wife been able to remain together so long?” he answered “Separate bathrooms”. Made a great deal of sense to me.

      • Johnny Carson had a couple on his show, married for 65 years. He asked what the secret to their success was. The wife said “respect, mutual understanding, and consideration.” The husband said the secret was that he hadn’t listened to a word she said in over 65 years. The place erupted with laughter.


        • Henny Youngman on the secret to his long marriage: “We go out for dinner once a week. She goes out on Tuesdays, I go out on Thursdays.”

          By the way, the patriarch was not a gag writer, just a guy at a wedding. Which made it even better. Impeccable timing and delivery.

        • Thanks for that, John. I’m going to pass it on to my son and grandsons. Very sage advice. There is danger in taking our spouses too seriously. It’s a fine line, but it can be dangerous.

  2. As for what the parents teach, that’s none of the state’s business beyond the most minimal standards, especially after it has proven that its own efforts have been disastrously incompetent.

    In too many schools, the only education provided is hands-on sex ed from teachers to underage students. See here for an example.

    Homeschooling may not be the best for every child; I am understanding its appeal.

  3. Thirty-seven tons of (beach) sand is 27.75 cubic yards of sand. Sounds like a lot.

    Here is your handy Sand Calculator for future needs should it come up. 🙂

    The cost of the sand is minimal — maybe one or two truck-loads? — but I’d imagine the cost of getting it picked up again would be 50 times more than dumping it.

    Avoda aravit as the saying goes.

    • The sand was free. This skate park is next to a beach. The real cost comes from the operation of the equipment needed to move the sand, and the pay of the workers operating the equipment. And since it’s in California, you’re going to pay more anyway than you would in other states. The real question is will the city pay to clear it out again? I highly doubt they will.

  4. The San Clemente municipal authorities are displaying the level of intelligence and public service we’ve come to expect from governments in California.

    Maggie Haberman is an enemy of civilization who deserves ignominy at best.

      • I mean, while many have guessed there’s a coming revolution, not one single prognosticator guessed that the first shots would be fired over a skate park…but it’s the leading contender so far.

    • Yes, I was just watching a video today about this. The skaters cleaned the sand out of one of the skate bowls and moved it to another bowl – by hand, with buckets and shovels. Now they’re skating in the cleared one and dirt-biking in the filled one.

      Kids, when you’re old enough to vote, remember this before you ask for more government in your life. This petty bullshit is what “more government” looks like.

  5. Are you seriously questioning my knowledge of US history?

    ::gets an idea, develops a question, googles::

    So…Plymouth Rock is off the coast of Massachusetts?!?! I always thought it was off the coast of Virginia.

    Crap. I’m not even kidding right now.

  6. Re: No. 2: Althouse.

    I may be misreading Althouse, but her post doesn’t seem to take a position one way or another. She is present the article for her readers to consider, in her “extreme non-judgmental” (I think that is what she calls it) way. There are 235 comments as of right now.


  7. We live adjacent to a sprawling, 3000 ac national battlefield park which is mostly wooded, and criss-crossed with popular unpaved hiking/jogging/horse paths. It’s easy to avoid proximity to another user. During the Obama shutdown (when he had open-air memorials fenced off), the rangers obediently closed the visitors center, shut the various parking lots’ gates (a relatively new addition), issued a statement that the park was closed, and then ignored the continued use of the fields and trails. Judging now from the cars parked on the road shoulders near the normal access points, the situation appears to be same now. The park’s current online notice does say to obey current local directives, but I’ve not hard of any citations by sheriff or police.

  8. Having grown up in Orange County, Ca, this senseless waste of the taxpayers money dumping sand into a skate board park which was built to kept the skateboarders from using the streets to do their jumps is appalling. I’m afraid the San Clemente City Council has waltzed over to namby pamby land.

  9. As much as I love Longfellow’s poem (I attended Longfellow Elementary School), it’s important to include at least one other rider from that night. Concord might not have heard the news had it not been for Samuel Prescott who actually finished Paul Revere’s ride.

  10. Thanks for mentioning Patriot’s Day, I have been lobbying my state legislature and governor for years to make it a state holiday, to no avail. As a member of the Sons of The American Revolution with nine established patriot ancestors, I always look forward to my chapter’s commemoration of Patriot Day at our April meeting, which we did not have this year, of course. My teacher sister tells me that Paul Revere’s Ride and the Battles of Lexington and Concord are introduced in fifth grade in our county schools.

  11. (1) I’m surprised Massachusetts allows a holiday called Patriot’s Day. I would assume they would claim it sounds too ‘right-wing extremist’ and ban it.

    (2) It isn’t about safety, it is about control. Just like gun control isn’t about public safety, it is about control of the populace. You can see the government leaders and the press pushing the restrictions harder and harder, telling us every day that we can never go back to the way things were. You can only go where they allow you to go, you can only go when they tell you to go. You can only buy what they allow you to buy and when they allow you to buy it. Try driving across the country right now. They have shut down the rest areas and most states have the restaurants shut down. So, do you just fill up bottles and throw them in the trash?

    A friend of mine has a mother dying right now. They can’t go to see their dying mother because (1) it is difficult to get there, but mainly (2) when they get there, they will be placed in a 2 week quarantine, at which point their mother will be dead. And all for what? They aren’t even telling us how many people are actually dying of this. We have ~8000 deaths/day in this country normally at this time of year. What is the number from last week? In March 2019 we had 253,000 deaths. In March 2018 we had 249,000 deaths. A difference of ±4,000 deaths is normal. How many coronavirus deaths in March 2020? 4053. This is within our standard deviation of deaths normally. Why is the whole country shut down and our freedoms eliminated for a disease that isn’t even statistically significant?

    In hospitals, patients aren’t allowed any visitors. Visitors are VITAL. When my relatives have been in the hospital, it is the relative that notifies the hospital personnel that the medicine orders are wrong, the patient hasn’t been given their medicine, the patient is about to be given the WRONG medicine, the patient’s blood pressure is too high/too low. From what I have seen, this happens EVERY DAY. Without a visitor to monitor the patients, how many people are dying? A woman at church lost her 12-year old child in the hospital and she wasn’t allowed to be with him his last 2 days on earth. She will never know why he really died. Was it his illness, or did the hospital staff miss something/make a mistake? Remember, ~500,000 people die each year from medical mistakes. Without visitors to help monitor their loved ones, what is the rate? Have we killed far more people this way than died from coronavirus? My guess would be yes.

    As for other costs of our economic shutdown. Organ transplants have virtually ceased. They seem to be down 80-90%. There are over 35,000 organ transplants each year. There are over a hundred thousand tissue transplants each year which also have been greatly slowed. So, are we killing a few thousand transplant patients each month during this shutdown?

    This whole thing is about bringing about the totalitarian state the Democrats and the bureaucrats want. I am not sure there ever was a compelling public safety reason to do this.

    • On top of all that, I’ve heard scuttlebutt (a friend who is a middle manager at a nursing home) that they have been directed to attribute EVERY death to the virus, just as a precaution.

    • Jacob Sullum wrote about a study that the disease is far less deadlier than initially thought.

      Preliminary results from antibody tests in Los Angeles County indicate that the true number of COVID-19 infections is much higher than the number of confirmed cases there, which implies that the fatality rate is much lower than the official tallies suggest. “The mortality rate now has dropped a lot,” Barbara Ferrer, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, said at a press briefing today. In contrast with the current crude case fatality rate of about 4.5 percent, she said, the study suggests that 0.1 percent to 0.2 percent of people infected by the virus will die, which would make COVID-19 only somewhat more deadly than the seasonal flu.

      L.A. County may have already passed the peak.

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