Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 8/5/2020: Words, Spin, And Millard Fillmore

Because “Glibby-glop-gloopy” or whatever the hell Oliver is singing here makes about as much sense as anything else I’m hearing…

1. Today in The Great Stupid’s cancellation orgy:

  • The ABA Journal reports that the Massachusetts Appeals Court  wants the word “grandfathering” to be “canceled.” Ruling in a zoning dispute, the court said a structure built before the enactment of zoning regulations had a certain level of protection, but the court  didn’t have a good word to describe that protection because  it wouldn’t use  “grandfathering.”  “Because we acknowledge that it has racist origins,” the woke and silly judges declared.

Apparently the phrase “grandfather clause” originally referred to laws adopted by some states after the Civil War to create barriers to voting by African Americans, explained Justice James Milkey in footnote 11 to the August 3 opinion. Interesting! And completely irrelevant to how the word is used now. Now, if I were Ann Althouse, who is word-obsessed, I might spend hours looking for other words used routinely today that have unsavory origins. I don’t care what words originally meant or when  they were first used. The objective with all words is communication. “Grandfathered” is a useful word. I used it in my baseball lecture for the Smithsonian to describe how spitball pitchers were allowed to keep throwing the unsanitary pitch after it was banned for everyone else in 1920. The court’s kind of virtue-signalling makes people stupid and communication difficult, and shame on the court for indulging in it.

  • The University of Buffalo will remove any reference to President Millard Fillmore on its campus,though he helped found the school and served as its first chancellor from 1846 until his death in 1874. School officials said in a news release that its decision to erase the memory of an individual the university owes its existence to “aligns with the university’s commitment to fight systemic racism and create a welcoming environment for all.”

No, it aligns with craven cowering to Black Lives Matter intimidation  and statue-toppling mobs.  Millard Fillmore—-great name, crummy President—signed The Compromise of 1850, which included the Fugitive Slave Act. Since it was a compromise, the school’s logic would require “canceling” all the anti-slavery crusaders who were part of it, as everyone at the time was desperately trying to keep the United States from ripping apart. When that effort failed, we got the Civil War, and more American casualties than any war before or since. How dare Fillmore try to stop that?

I think the Fillmore-cancelers should be obligated to explain how they would have handled the growing tensions over slavery and the cultural divide between North and South. I’m sure they have a brilliant answer ready.

As the suddenly “In” Fred Rogers would  say, “Can you say ‘hindsight bias’? Sure you can!”

2.  I know it’s just my imagination, over-inflated ego and feelings of unjust insignificance, but it is amazing how often I see the essence of Ethics Alarms posts popping up on more popular and prominent blogs a day or two later. Case in point: PJ Media blogger Stephen Kruiser’s headline for his “Morning Briefing” today is “ Which Biden VP Option Would Be Less of a Train Wreck?”  Hmmm...where have I heard that before?

As diligent EA readers know, we polled on that exact question yesterday morning. Here are the results so far:

3. Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias! At Yahoo News, Crystal Hill mocks Kayleigh McEnany, the White House press secretary, for “retroactively” blaming the wild spike in crime and violence in cites across the U.S. on proposals to defund police. Oh, I get it! See, because the police haven’t yet been defunded, how can these proposals result in increased crime? This is classic media spinning against Trump and in defense of irresponsible Democrats. Of course the proposals have emboldened criminals and intimidated police from doing their jobs. Defunding the police was a threat. Fear of another manufactured “racist” incident like the non-racist George Floyd tragedy causing more demonizing of the police motivates many police officers to play it safe, and criminal know the heat is off. (Actual defunding of the police, as when New York’s mayor eliminated its plainclothes anti-crime unit, also had an effect. Naturally, Hill doesn’t mention that, because she’s a biased, partisan hack.)

4. If only these police had been intimidated!  In Aurora, Colorado, police detained and handcuffed a  mother and her children after the license plate number on their SUV matched the plates for a stolen motorcycle from another state. To confuse the officers further, the SUV had also been reported as stolen a year ago, but had been returned.

A police car slowly pulled behind the family, then stopped the vehicle. The officers drew their weapons and ordered the mother and her four daughters, who ranged from 6 to 17 years old, out of the car. The older children were handcuffed.

The family was black, so this was obviously a racist incident, right? Would a similar mistake involving a white family be national news? I think not.

The police  had used a license plate scanner to gather information on vehicles in the area. The license plate matched the stolen motorcycle, and a photo of the SUV was also in the system from its earlier theft.

Aurora Police Chief Vanessa Wilson defended her officers, saying, “I totally understand that anger, and don’t want to diminish that anger, but I will say it wasn’t a profiling incident. It was a hit that came through the system, and they have a picture of the vehicle the officers saw.”

After officers realized the mistake, the family was uncuffed and the officers apologized,

If I were a police officer in the midst of the George Floyd Freakout, as soon as I saw that the family was black, I’d ignore the matter. How would I know whether the mother or the kids would resist arrest, causing things to spin out of control? I risk getting tarred as a racist and losing my job if things go sideways. Uh-uh. Until society comes to its senses, I’m not touching that land mine.

I need to mention that the local reporting was biased, inflammatory and incompetent. Jessica Porter’s lede was “Police detained and handcuffed a Black mother and several children after mistaking their SUV for a stolen motorcycle from another state.” Her article never mentions the other factor in the arrest, which was that the SUV had been reported stolen. The fact that the family was black is, or should be, irrelevant to the story. Her report for Denver 7 was updated this morning, and it still doesn’t mention that the SUV was in the database, which the Washington Post reported yesterday before 6 am, or 4 am Rocky Mountain Time.

Nice journalism, Jessica! On the plus side, you did manage to make your readers think the police are racist and stupid.

And I can’t let this pass. Jessica is so woke she used the irredeemably stupid “they” to mean he or she, or something. “The officer drew their weapon on the family and ordered them out of the car,” she wrote, and some equally incompetent editor permitted it. How many officers were there? Did one draw a weapon, or all of them? When political correctness results in miscommunication, priorities are out of order.

16 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 8/5/2020: Words, Spin, And Millard Fillmore

  1. #4 I was watching this particular story on the evening news yesterday and when they were done with it I turned to my wife and said, Either there’s facts that the media isn’t telling us or these officers are complete imbeciles. Van vs motorcycle, no freaking way the officers are that stupid. Something’s not right about this report.

  2. 1. Yes, it’s stupid. But it’s easier to go after the antebellum (sorry…forbidden word…pre-Civil War) stuff first because they were all racist slaveholders back then. When all that’s been cancelled and the few remaining people who know who Fillmore was have forgotten him, they’ll cancel Hayes through Hoover, then slowly move up to George W. Bush (skipping Jimmy Carter until the old gentleman passes away).

    4. Obviously, the image of a mother and minor children handcuffed and lying on hot concrete is jarring, regardless of race. I don’t deny that the story is only national news because of the race of the family involved, but I believe the narrative of the Great Stupid is that the mother and, especially, a couple of the children would not have been handcuffed and forced down on the ground if they were white.

    Whether that’s true or not is up in the air. We have no idea what the motivations of the police were in cuffing and lining them on the ground like they were criminals.

    • My guess is that kids’ reactions are impossible to predict, there were a lot of them, and the safest thing for everyone was to immobilize them.

      My son was 18 when he was involved in a police chase. When he surrendered, they threw him to the ground and cuffed him. He is very white

      • That’s really all I can think of…they didn’t know if the teens would cause a problem. It’s sad that police have to be concerned about the reactions of kids during these kinds of stops, but that’s another issue altogether.

        Unfortunately Grant being restrained and force used against him is an inconvenient truth when the false narrative being peddled is that only black people have rough encounters with the police. It flies in the face of the systemic racism construct that the Left has built.

      • Jack and A.M.,

        Did you watch the video? With the sound on? Yeah, it’s bad, right? Four black people handcuffed while police officers stomp* around? Bad optics, indeed.

        Yet, someone explain the hysteria displayed by that family. Even the poor 6 year was screaming his head off, supposedly terrified by the nasty police. Every last one of them shrieked as if they were being tortured, with red hot pokers sticking in the sides of their head. Police got it wrong, granted, but at that moment, no amount of reasoning from anybody would have de-escalated the situation. It seems to me that the black community has been conditioned to hate, fear, and be terrified of police. This will only end badly.


        *Ed. Note: Not really. They didn’t stomp around, were not wearing jackboots, and did not have “We Hunt Blacks” emblazened on their uniforms. In fact, they were trying to be calm.

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