Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 6/13/2020: “You Know…Morons”

Above: The obligatory clip from that soon-to-be-banned comic classic, “Blazing Saddles.”

Periodically I get a drive by comment that informs me that it is unethical to engage in “name-calling,” as when I describe someone who advocates something truly moronic as “a moron.” I strongly disagree. It is unethical to allow those who infect society with their terrible reasoning, ignorant analysis and crippling biases to do so under the guise of being trustworthy, responsible and respectable citizens. We are not talking about mere disagreements. A statement or action has to be especially dim-witted to justify such a warning label. The criminals who post their crimes on social media, for example: morons. Advocates of abolishing the police: morons. Admittedly, sometimes a moronic position—trying to reconcile the attacks on Brett Kavanaugh with the determination to vote for Joe Biden, for example–is simply dishonest, and the individuals doing so know it. They are not morons; they are liars, or just bad people. Whether these categories are better or worse than morons is a matter of debate.

I rate three of today’s four items as meeting the “moronic” standard, and attention should be paid.

1. Those who do not learn the lessons of the Beatles are doomed to repeat them. I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t believe that Joe Biden, even in his advancing senility, would be so foolish as to say that the killing of George Floyd in police custody last month is having a greater global impact than the 1968 assassination of Martin Luther King. Even if that was true, which I doubt, certainly over the long term, you don’t compare an icon with a contemporary figure unless you want to infuriate the admirers of the icon.  John Lennon learned this the hard way when he tossed off the observation that the Fab Four were more popular at that moment than Jesus. Lennon meant his remark ironically and self-deprecatingly, but it didn’t help: an international uproar was triggered. Biden didn’t mean his remark ironically or to point out that the reaction to Floyd’s death was excessive, which means it was just a stupid thing to say.

This is the second recent Biden gaffe likely to nettle black voters, and it’s a good bet that more are on the way. The fact that he keeps doing this and that the  conventional wisdom remains that Obama’s reflex black support will automatically migrate  to Biden shows the lack of respect Democrats have for African Americans.

2.  Wait…what are the rules again?

This op-ed was just published in the Times—you know, that newspaper that said that a U.S. Senator’s op-ed about using troops to stop rioting in the cities was “dangerous,” and that made the editor who greenlighted the opinion piece resign?

Are there any other questions about the Times’ biases?

Meanwhile,  what about all of those other opinion pieces about how defunding the police didn’t really mean defunding the police?

If you’re going to sell a lie to the American people, it’s wise to get everyone on the same page.

3. From Andrew Sullivan, another periodic truth-teller and iconoclast when he isn’t in the grip of his strongest ideological biases, in a New York Magazine essay:

The new orthodoxy — what the writer Wesley Yang has described as the “successor ideology” to liberalism — seems to be rooted in what journalist Wesley Lowery calls “moral clarity.” He told Times media columnist Ben Smith this week that journalism needs to be rebuilt around that moral clarity, which means ending its attempt to see all sides of a story, when there is only one, and dropping even an attempt at objectivity (however unattainable that ideal might be). And what is the foundational belief of such moral clarity? That America is systemically racist, and that, as Lowery put it in The Atlantic, “the justice system — in fact, the entire American experiment — was from its inception designed to perpetuate racial inequality.”…The crudeness and certainty of this analysis is quite something. It’s an obvious rebuke to Barack Obama’s story of America as an imperfect but inspiring work-in-progress, gradually including everyone in opportunity, and binding races together, rather than polarizing them. In fact, there is more dogmatism in this ideology than in most of contemporary American Catholicism. And more intolerance. Question any significant part of this, and your moral integrity as a human being is called into question. There is little or no liberal space in this revolutionary movement for genuine, respectful disagreement, regardless of one’s identity, or even open-minded exploration. In fact, there is an increasingly ferocious campaign to quell dissent, to chill debate, to purge those who ask questions, and to ruin people for their refusal to swallow this reductionist ideology whole. a white-supremacist project from the start,

Gee, what was your first clue, Andrew? I’d rank this sudden epiphany on Sullivan’s part as, oh, two to five years late.

Professor Reynolds comments that “It’s going to be painful for Andrew when he realizes that it’s vote for Trump or face an Orwellian nightmare.” Watching and reading Sullivan’s Hamlet-like equivocations over the years, I find it difficult to believe that Sullivan would be able to extract himself from the hypocrisy of his peers and colleagues.

4. From the Niggardly Principle files…Lynchburg, Virginia resident Daisy Howard has launched a petition to the Lynchburg City Council, arguing that “if black lives truly matter to the city, then such a word defining the hanging of people of color can and will be eliminated….I understand it was named after a man named John Lynch, but why do we insist on explaining that when people react to its name poorly (understandably so)? Why do we insist on defending it when, maybe we can just admit that lynch really shouldn’t be in the name of well, anything?”

The city’s  Chief Public History Officer Ted Delaney points out that John Lynch was  a progressive Quaker who fought against slavery and for the freedom of African Americans. Delaney told WSET-TV, “He believed in emancipating slaves. He had slaves but freed all of his. He’s supporting recolonization, which is sending slaves back to Africa. He did not believe in perpetuating the institution of slavery in this country.”

But never mind: Daisy has the oh-so-2020 progressive mindset that it’s foolish to require fealty to reality, and what matters is how ignorant people perceive the world, falsely or not. She’s not only a moron, she’s an idiocy activist.

First Democrats want to call acts that aren’t lynchings lynching, and now Daisy wants to ban perceived references to lynchings that really honor a human rights advocate. This is progress.

16 thoughts on “Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 6/13/2020: “You Know…Morons”

  1. When do you suppose they are gong to rename Washington state? When are they going to drop the Washington from the District of Columbia? Or rename Washington and Lee University? Or Leesburg, Virginia? It’s getting really hard to write parody or satire these days, because reality kkeps taking all the good topics.

    • D.C. is going to have to go as well, John. Columbia? Columbus? District of? It’ll have to be changed to Marion Barry Town.

  2. 4. Chief Public History Officer? Is there also a Chief Private History Officer? A Junior Public History Officer? Our tax dollars at play. Sheesh. Whatever happened to volunteer organizations? Isn’t there a Lynchburg historical society?

  3. A man walks into a bar….

    Man: I’d like a Negroni, please.
    Bartender: Nope. Contains the word Negro.
    Man: O.k., then a Cordon Negro Brut?
    Bartender: Seriously?
    Man: How about a Tom Collins?
    Bartender: Nope. Could be confused with Uncle Tom
    Man: Planter’s Punch?
    Bartender: Too close to plantation, planting and therefore cotton picking.
    Man: A White Russian?
    Bartender: Privilege
    Man: A Black Russian?
    Bartender: Dude.

    • Yeah, Daisy’s so stupid that she doesn’t know to water them with what plants crave – Brawndo! (It has electrolytes)

  4. Was he really being ironic and self-depreciating? Honestly asking; in context it looks like he was being completely serious, but maybe I need more context than just the surrounding sentences?

    “Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I needn’t argue with that; I’m right and I will be proved right. We’re more popular than Jesus now; I don’t know which will go first – rock and roll or Christianity.”

    Funnily enough, assuming this was sincere, it’s already safe to say he was not, in fact, proved right.

    • Maybe I should put it this way: he was talking about Christianity, not the Beatles, and used the Beatles to show the perilous state of Christianity. He was not tying to extol the Beatles at the expense of Jesus—he just picked his own group rather than thousands of other examples to show how perilous it was, if just a rock group could displace the Christian deity.

      I do think its fair to say that Christianity is in a much weaker state than it was in the early Sixties.

  5. “Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.” George Orwell 1984

  6. “It is unethical to allow those who infect society with their terrible reasoning, ignorant analysis and crippling biases to do so under the guise of being trustworthy, responsible and respectable citizens.”

    I found it particularly…um…empowering to see Jack visit a Madison, WI blog and call out the Blog Idiot (who shall remain nameless, but whose initials are richard lesiak) for one of his far too many breathtakingly imbecilic comments.

    One of my pal Steve’s favorite sayings: The Difference Between Genius And Stupidity Is That Genius Has Its Limits. (attributed to A. Einstein)

    One of mine: “No Unit Of Measure Exists To Adequately Determine The Crushing Stupidity Demonstrated By The Blog Idiot!”

  7. (“Sarcasm” sign) The solution to renaming is simple. Follow the example of King County, Washington. In 1986, King County decided it was no longer named for 13th Vice President of the U.S. William Rufus King, but instead for Martin Luther King, Jr. Anything named for George Washington could just be rededicated to Booker T. Washington. Lee? That’s Spike, not Robert E.. Jefferson? Well, there’s always George! Columbus? TV actor Columbus Short! Billions would be saved by not having to change the stationery! Then the rest of us could go on remembering the original namesakes until logic and sanity return to public discourse and we push the “Reset” button. Easy, peasy, lemon squeezy!

  8. #1

    The problem is that yes, the George Floyd killing does have a larger impact on the world than the assassination of Martin Luther King but Martin Luther King’s legacy in the wake of his assassination had a much *better* impact on the world than the death of George Floyd.

    We’d rather acknowledge who has a better impact on the world, not who had a larger impact on the world…and therein lies the conundrum…a lot of imbeciles on the Left really think that cities burning and lives ruined are a better impact on the world.

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