Lazy Sunday Afternoon Ethics, 8/30/2020: A Letter, A Slapdown, A Poll, Sherlock Holmes, And A Dinosaur Walk Into An Ethics Post…

1. Oh-oh…Ethics Alarms has been and will continue to use “Wuhan virus” rather than various versions of Covid or corona virus as a matter of principle. China inflicted this contagion on the world and greatly abetted its spread by its cover-ups and lies, and pandemics and flus usually are identified by their site of origin. Furthermore, the political correctness edict against using the province where the first outbreak (we know of occurred) was yet another anti-Trump ploy, simultaneously covering for a brutal foreign adversary.

Syracuse University placed chemistry Professor Jon Zubieta on administrative leave and will be investigated by its Office of Equal Opportunity, Inclusion and Resolution because he used the terms “Wuhan Flu” and “Chinese Communist Party Virus” in his syllabus. In a joint statement from Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Karin Ruhlandt and Interim Vice Chancellor and Provost John Liu, explained,

“Syracuse University unequivocally condemns racism and xenophobia and rejects bigotry, hate and intolerance of any kind. The derogatory language used by a professor on his course syllabus is damaging to the learning environment for our students and offensive to Chinese, international and Asian-Americans everywhere who have experienced hate speech, rhetoric and actions since the pandemic began.”

There is no racism here, and the theory, much in vogue, that  irrational people reacting to factual statements by persecuting others justifies suppresng the truth is unethical and perverse.

2.  Res Ipsa Loquitur. This is the letter Portland mayor Ted Wheeler sent to the President of the United States.


3. Jurassic Lives Matter. BLM protestors pulled down the statue of a dinosaur in front of  the Kenosha Dinosaur Discovery Museum.

It was  one of many municipal buildings that were damaged by the mob, including the public library, the Harborside Academy charter school, the US Postal Service building and the county register of deeds.

Cancelling a dinosaur is definitely strange, since they never had a chance to violate anyone’s human rights, predating human beings as they did  by several million years. Attacking the public library makes much more sense.

This is the group your sports teams are endorsing. Don’t forget that.

But, as Kamala Harris reminds us, mobs know best.

4. Wait, what??? A lawsuit filed in June alleges that Netflix’s soon-to-be -released “Enola Holmes” infringes on the copyright owned by Arthur Conan Doyle’s family, because the spin-off shows the famous fictional detective having legally actionable feelings. The Doyle estate argues that although the copyright to all of the Holmes stories written before 1923 expired in 2014, the later stories are still under the estate’s control. Those are the stories in which Holmes began to display human emotions, like, say, caring.

In the Netflix  film, Holmes worries  about his sister Enola, who isn’t a character Doyle envisioned. This, says the family, means Netflix is obligated to pay up.

Well, it isn’t legally unethical to concoct a wildly unlikely legal theory for a nuisance suit. It worked before , when the family made similar claims against Miramax’s 2015  Mr. Holmes. Miramax paid an undisclosed  settlement.  I hope Netflix is made of sterner stuff, because the theory is bats, and the family ought not to profit from such a contrived distortion of intellectual property law, not to mention logic.

5. Let’s poll on a poll. Hard core conservative pundit Kurt Schlicter posits,

Conservative out with his family surrounded and not allowed to leave by rioters screaming & threatening them, demanding they kneel. He draws his carry piece and kills three. The rest scatter. His family is safe. Would you convict him of murder?

I’ll use his options…

24 thoughts on “Lazy Sunday Afternoon Ethics, 8/30/2020: A Letter, A Slapdown, A Poll, Sherlock Holmes, And A Dinosaur Walk Into An Ethics Post…

  1. As for #4, let me quote another Great Detective when I say, pfui.

    Though Holmes in even the earliest stories claimed to be all brain and no emotion, it was clear that his feelings were merely mastered rather than nonexistent. From the very beginning, Holmes is susceptible to flattery, is very often vain, frequently petty, but also usually gracious, warm and even “clubbable” (in the society sense, rather than the seal one).

    In several instances Watson notes that the veil would move aside and the world would see the great heart that was partnered with the great brain. Indeed, when Watson believes Holmes is dead, he thinks the was the best and wisest man he ever knew.

    The Doyle estate has been pulling this nonsense for years, and often corporate deep pockets pay just to shut them up. Netflix may be made of sterner stuff, but with their promotion of Cuties, frankly, I hope the Doyle parasites bleed them, and bleed ’em dry.

  2. 21 votes and I’m only 1 of 2 that would convict based on the information provided? WTF Over?

    Yes, no one should be surrounded like that and not allowed to leave, but absent any additional threats there are other solutions. Even drawing a concealed weapon at that point would be an unnecessary escalation.

    That isn’t to say the situation couldn’t change and self-defense required very quickly but based on the narrative provided that line hasn’t been drawn.

    • The scenario specifically says there are threats. That and he and his family have already been kidnapped. That’s good enough to shoot.

      • Absent more detail/context, words/threats aren’t violence. I see your point regarding “being kidnapped”, but see other options to avoid shooting someone.

        • Violence is not a requirement for self defense. But we’re already past that with the kidnapping. But here’s your context, you’ve been been surrounded by an angry mob shouting ‘get on your knees, whitey(or bitch or nigga or whatever). You really think your best move is to mouth off with an ‘or what’?

        • The standard is what would a reasonable person assume is about to happen irrespective of whether they comply or not. I answered probably not to convict because it is reasonable for any person to conclude that the mob will harm them just for being who they are which is why they were accosted and surrounded in the first place. The reasonable person could easily conclude that because the mob prevented their escape that the mob cared little about the morality, ethics or legalities of their acts. Therefore, without any evidence to suggest that the shooter had any other option to protect him/herself and family from those who have been established as rioters I would not vote to convict.

          Conversely, if I was surrounded by a group of people during a non-rioting time and they were threatening me and I could continue moving is any general direction I would continue to walk until they escalated the altercation before drawing a weapon. The part about not allowed to leave is critical.

          Change the scenario slightly. You have been kidnapped and not allowed to leave by only two men. At some point you have the opportunity to crush the skull of one of your kidnappers with a blunt object and you do so which allows you to escape. Should you be charged with murder? Does the type of weapon make a difference? Does it make a difference if the kidnapped person is male or female? The answer to all these questions to a reasonable person is an emphatic NO. Those who restrict your movement under threat of harm do so at their own peril.

      • I think the best way to think clearly about this sort of situation is if it is others who are in distress and the shooter is doing it to protect them. You can use the same measure of force to protect others as you would yourself.

    • I think this is an offshoot of the progressive belief that no one should ever be shot ever. I don’t know exactly when this thought pattern started….. But it’s almost certainly got roots in BLM.

      It might be the Zimmerman/Martin case, where the left got very very wrapped up in the narrative before the narrative fell apart, and evidence started piling up that Zimmerman only shot Martin when Martin was pounding Zimmerman’s head into the pavement. If you can’t shoot someone in self-defense when your attacker is actively pounding your head into concrete, when can you?

      Or it might be the Brown case, where he was shot in the hand while reaching for the officer’s gun, was allowed to run most of a block away, when he turned back on officers and charged them. If an officer isn’t allowed to shoot in self-defense under those circumstances, when is he?

      How about this latest shooting? Blake; He has active warrants for sexual assault (rape) and domestic violence. He went to his victim’s home, violating a restraining order and stole her keys. He wrestled off the cops, who tried tasering him twice, and then ran around his vehicle and reached into his car (where we later learned he had a knife). Now, his family is outraged that he is still, surprise surprise, facing all kinds of charges and is handcuffed to his bed, as if there’s some kind of moral zero-sum math going into the equation where he should get off for rape because the police already shot him.

      None of this makes sense.

      All this mealy mouthed “Well you could have”, “well you should have” de-escalation nonsense is derived from a fantasy view of the world. People are not required to yell out “What kind of weapon you got?” and only use the lowest common denominator when faced with criminal behavior. It’s not their God-Damned job to make sure their attackers go home to their families, it’s their job to make sure *they* go back to their families. And I want that fight to be as absolutely unfair as possible, when a rapist is threatening to cut up a woman, I want her to have an MR-15 and to fill him so full of lead he ends up weighing more even after all the blood loss.

      • I’m not sure if I meant to write AR-15 or M4, but there’s no such thing as an MR-15. My point is that I want the prospective rape victim to have a very big, very scary, black gun with which to pump lead directly into the bloodstream of her attacker.

      • @Humble Talent

        I’m not sure if your comment is just a general statement, or directed at my comments specifically, but I will say this. I had no issue with the actions of PO Darren Wilson or George Zimmerman, but the hypothetical jury case presented had very little to do with either of those acts of self-defense. Nor did I say anything about de-escalation, mealy-mouthed, or otherwise.

        Sometimes good people have to kill bad people, sadly that is reality, always has been and always will be as far as I can tell. On that, I think we can agree.

        I also believe kill someone else should be a last resort, sometimes there are other options available, but as Kyle Rittenhouse showed us, sometimes as much as you try to avoid it, it isn’t always possible.

        At the end of the day, I agree in part at least with Steve Witherspoon in saying “There really isn’t enough information in the scenario…”.

        Reading the narrative presented I pictured the situation Lauren Victor was in, but clearly others pictured something else.

  3. 1. The guy knew what he was getting into when he decided to make a career in academia. Political correctness and irrationality have been the hallmark there for over 20 years. Syracuse can join Ithaca, NY as a city of evil.

    2. I shredded this letter a few posts back. I’ll repost if you would like me to.

    3. This is not about what statues represent anymore. This is only about destruction and leaving your mark. Now everyone who walks past that Museum and sees the empty plinth will know the black lives matter was here.

    4. This makes no sense..

    5. it depends on the county and state where this happened. In Morris or Sussex Counties (Western NJ), which are decidedly rural, this person is probably in the clear. He might also be in the clear in Monmouth or Ocean Counties down the shore, which are the main GOP stronghold in NJ. In one of the urban counties he’s dog meat, as the prosecutor will load up the jury with black people. Even if he dodges the state murder charge, he better hope the White House doesn’t flip in November, or the new US Attorney in Newark will be coming after him on Federal civil rights charges.

  4. 2. The letter must have been composed in the Dem talking point factory. I’m stunned they didn’t toss in a paragraph blaming Trump for global warming, the current economic situation (caused by the lockdown, which they’re in favor of, sometimes), and Russian interference in every election since 1917. Or else the letter was cribbed from some standard issue, angry lefty, Facebook post.

  5. 1. The Office of Equal Opportunity, Inclusion and Resolution? Man, that sounds terrifying. Who comes up with these names? Children of Nazis from Paraguay? Resolution? Do they issue The Final Resolution once their star chamber hearings are complete?

    Am I ever glad I didn’t get a graduate degree in English and work as a college professor. Brutal.

  6. Re: Syracuse University.
    For about five years, I volunteered my time to the students of Syracuse University Business School providing one-on-one mentoring for up to three students a semester, conducting mock interviews, and participating in panel discussions during career fair events.

    During a supply chain panel discussion about 12 years ago, a student asked me about environmentally conscious manufacturing’s role in supply chain decisions. I responded that in my experience in commercial transactions, it did not play any role. I went on to state that was not always the case in consumer products when the seller was using environmental responsibility to differentiate their product in the consumer marketplace. The professor on the panel discussion with me became somewhat apoplectic upon hearing my answer and went on to stress the importance of environmental stewardship.

    From that point onward, no one at the business school contacted me to provide any volunteer services at all. While no one from the university confronted me about my relating my experience to students, to abruptly stop seeking my volunteer services after multiple years of service can’t be a coincidence. It seems that they are only interested in individuals who parrot their version of reality to students.

    • That’s doubtless true, Tom. I tried to volunteer at a local high school to teach AP English and happened to do an analysis of the work in question that the teacher didn’t agree with and she ran me off immediately and quite viciously. Paid people don’t like volunteers messing up their thing.

      On further reflection, I think this CCP flu and Wuhan flu reaction is Syracuse taking directions from the CCP. I bet Syracuse has lots of Chinese undergraduate and graduate students enrolled at full sticker price paid by the CCP. I bet there are Chinese guys on the faculty, first generation Chinese students, who have obtained degrees in the West and are now working in U.S. universities. It’s about the money these Chinese funded students bring to the university’s bottom line. The administration is doubtless beholden to the Chinese government and I suspect there are Chinese guys on campus making sure the administration knows how the cow eats the cabbage. It’s essentially a coup.

  7. Academic ignorance knows no bounds. Polyglot Victor Mair recounts the tale of a USC instructor that dared to advise his MBA charges about the realities of cross-cultural differences:
    No good deed goes unpunished.

    As indicated in the comments, even Canadian-Indian Russell Peters, a comedian who is a brilliant multicultural comic and an equal opportunity offender, has done a routine on realities of 那个,那个,那个。。。 [NSFW]

    • I’m not a fan of those who fall into the general category of “comedian” but I do appreciate intelligent cultural observation and satire, so thanks for introducing me to Russell Peters.

  8. The Poll,
    I voted maybe manslaughter and I do mean “maybe”. There really isn’t enough information in the scenario to say definitively anything else. In my opinion, even “probably not” is too definitive.

  9. 5. Never. He is with his family, indicating wife, children, maybe even aged parent, so flight is not an option, and he is surrounded. The group is hostile and he is greatly outnumbered. Threats are made. Under these circumstances it is not unreasonable to believe that serious bodily injury could be inflicted on him or one of his family members. He did nothing to place himself in this position. He is legally justified to protect himself and family with force, including deadly force.

    • If we could we could drastically reduce health care costs by mandating healthy diets, avoidance of any risky activity such as bicycling, rock climbing etc. Quora has become a place for people who cannot think for themselves to ask idiotic questions to those who fancy themselves experts on everything.

  10. Here’s another perspective regarding “offensive” language. So many people are getting their knickers in a twist (or worse) when they hear COVID-19 described as the “WuFlu” or the “CCP Virus”. Would you care to guess what the official Chinese language term for COVID-19 is in Taiwan?
    武漢肺炎 – Wǔhàn fèiyán – a term that is translated as “Wuhan Pneumonia”
    Even on the official Taiwan CDC website ( the disease is consistently described using the expression “COVID-19 (武漢肺炎)”.
    Whoda thunk that a Chinese speaking nation could exhibit such racist behavior!? /sarcasm off

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