Monday Ethics Madness, 9/14/2020: Accusations, Crimes And Punishment

On this day, September 14, in 1814, Francis Scott Key was inspired to write the poem that was eventually set to music and, by act of Congress in 1931, became America’s official National Anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner.” The poem, originally titled “The Defence of Fort M’Henry,” was written after Key witnessed the Maryland fort standing up to furious bombardment by the British during the War of 1812. A lone, tattered  U.S. flag was still flying over Fort McHenry at daybreak, giving rise to the anthem’s most bracing line, “And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air, Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.”

I’ve listened to the Anthem being attacked more or less my whole life—it’s bellicose, it’s too hard to sing, it’s set to the music of a drinking song, it was written by a slave-holder. What matters is that the Anthem, unlike so many others nations’ anthems, has a authentic historical origin linked to an existtential  crisis in our history, and that it eloquently represents the American character and its dedication to hope, perseverance, and resilience. The Star Spangled Banner may be hard to sing, but when a crowd sings it with  passion, or when a singer knocks it out of the park like the late, great Whitney Houston, only France’s Marseillaise can equal it for sheer chills.

The current assault on the Anthem, and the use of it for cheap political theatrics by refusing to stand and convey proper respect for what it represents, is an attack on American history, values and culture. Nothing less.

1. It’s called “paying one’s debt to society.” I have no intense objection to allowing convicted felons to vote once they have served their sentences. I also have no intense objection to banning convicted felons from voting for life. In 2018, Florida’s voters decided to end the disenfranchisement of those convicted of felonies, except for murder and sexual offenses. Then the battle became whether convicted felons should be required to pay all the fines related to their crimes before they became eligible to vote again.

Well, of course. Isn’t that intrinsically obvious? You can vote when you have paid society’s requirements as a punishment for the felony: whether that is time in prison, or time on probation, or a cash fine, it’s all part of the “debt to society.” Pay that debt, and then you can vote.

But Democrats are expert in representing legitimate requirements and safeguards for voting as sinister voting suppression schemes, so in May  a Florida court ruled that requiring convicted felons, many of whom are indigent, to pay court-ordered fines before they could regain the vote was unlawful discrimination, by imposing an unconstitutional “pay-to-vote system.”

What an astoundingly deceitful and dishonest argument! Is requiring people to pay for their groceries a vicious “pay not to starve to death” system? The fines have nothing to do with voting. The fines have to do with completing the punishment for the felonies. Calling the fines the equivalent of a poll tax is clever but deliberately misleading, yet a court bought it. Fortunately, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta overturned that decision, and ruled that the 2019 Florida law requiring ex-felons to pay their fines before being re-enfranchised was indeed constitutional.

And it is.

2. I think Google is untrustworthy and biased, but this doesn’t prove it. Reader J.R. Marr pointed me to a controversy on Twitter over Google allegedly burying references to Joe Biden’s much discussed alleged dementia. Here’s one of the pieces of evidence offered: Google’s autofill oddly doesn’t get the hint, while other search engines have no such reticence…

That appears to be a glitch related to one particular phrasing, however. If you type “Joe Biden dementia,” the first results are not especially positive for Biden fans:

  • Boston Herald :Joe Biden continues to lose notes, mind Only 16 days to the first presidential debate, and Dementia Joe Biden is resting up this weekend after a hard week of hitting the road, Jack.
  • 93.1 WIBC Indianapolis Uncle Joe Biden’s Dementia Chronicles: The Biden Can’tDemocratic presidential nominee and probable dementia sufferer Joe Biden told an audience of misguided supporters at a campaign stop in…
  • Raleigh News & Observer Fact check: An NC congressman is diagnosing Joe  Biden’s mental state Dementia is the broader term for diseases of the brain including Alzheimer’s disease and others, according to the school. “The diagnosis of …

3. There are several good movies using this premise; unfortunately, this story appears to be true. South Dakota’s Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg–he’s a Republican— reported hitting a deer over the weekend.  In fact, his car hit and killed a man whose body wasn’t discovered until the next morning, the Department of Public Safety said today. Governor Kristi confirmed that the Attorney General had been involved in a fatal crash. Ravnsborg told the Hyde County Sheriff’s Office that  he hit a deer on the highway.  At this time it is not known if Ravnsborg stopped to confirm that he hit a deer , or if he checked to  inspect his vehicle for damage. It is unknown as of now whether if Ravnsborg called 911 or someone else, but the press  has requested recordings of all calls related to the accident The body  of 55-year-old Joe Boever was discovered the next morning.

23 thoughts on “Monday Ethics Madness, 9/14/2020: Accusations, Crimes And Punishment

    • Supposedly he called 911 immediately after the collision, so presumably they have his location tagged by the Enhanced 911 system, and found a dead man, not a deer, at that location. I would assume they would be able to gather DNA and other evidence from his car, too.

      It sounds a little suspicious to me, though. I’ve hit deer, and know many other people who have. I don’t know any who have called 911 to report it immediately, especially if the car is still drivable and nobody is injured. Feels to me like he may have been setting up a cover story, possibly to give himself time to sober up. He’s not a Kennedy, is he?

      • When I was delivering newspapers I hit more than one deer in the early morning hours. I don’t believe I ever called either 911 or the police, but I also don’t think I ever had a situation where the car wasn’t driveable. The one accident I had where my car had to be towed, I called my insurance company rather than the police. Perhaps not quite proper, but that’s what I did.

        I’ll say that usually I would see the deer (or domestic terrorists, as I am wont to refer to them), but not always. I recall one incident where there was just a big *whump* as it hit me — I never saw anything, but above the dent there were some feces stuck to the car. If you hit the deer with the front end (probably the worst case for the car), you’re almost certainly going to see something. If it rams into the side of the car — probably not.

        I thought that story was rather confusing, as I had a lot of trouble figuring out what state the AG was from — they kept talking about the North Dakota DPS, but then the towns referenced were in South Dakota. I guess the local paper assumed that you knew this guy was the AG from South Dakota.

        It does seem a little odd — not to mention the reporter was miffed that the authorities weren’t turning over every scrap of information and evidence that they had, which may have slanted the story a bit.

    • I know people who’ve hit deer. Depending on the size of the animal, the car can be totaled while the deer itself runs off into the woods anywhere from being stunned to dying.

      He had to have stopped the car when he hit that fellow. But whether or not he had to have known he hit a person rather than a deer would depend on if he got out to check damage to the car. Most people probably would. If he decided to stay in the vehicle and continue driving, it’s possible he could have missed a body on the road. He could have genuinely thought he hit a deer if he looked out his window and didn’t see anything. Those animals can take some hits without much damage and they will generally run off rather than stick around.

      We need more information here. There are people who wouldn’t call 911 if they thought they hit a deer, especially if the car isn’t significantly damaged and no one in the vehicle is hurt.

      • Didn’t the man’s family say that the man had been in a car accident that evening? It would seem to me that an inspection of the car would determine if he hit a man or somethi9ng else. Additionally, if the dead man had, in fact, been in accident, it might stand to reason that he died in the accident, and not by being hit by another car.


  1. 2. Really wyrd that my attempts at using google typing “joe biden dementi” does not suggest dementia? What could the technical explanation be for such a common word and so many having searched on such a phrase but for which there is no autocomplete?

    • The technical explanation is that, technically, Google wants Biden to win…

      I agree, there’s no legit explanation for this behavior. If three other search engines are getting this question often enough for it to be at the top of their autocomplete lists, there no way Google isn’t seeing a similar number of searches. The only way it’s not coming up is because the results have been manipulated.

      • It’s not that sinister, if you’re doing a Google search that starts with a name, Google will not autocomplete certain terms regardless of the name.

        It also won’t complete “Donald Trump dementi”, “Donald Trump insan”, “Donald Trump hooke” for instance, it also won’t complete “Jeffrey Epstein Pedophil” or “Bill Cosby Rap”, Although, that last one completed to “Bill Cobsy Rap Album”. Google is a superior product generally, but it doesn’t do well returning anything that wouldn’t come up with Safe Search enabled on Bing.

        • Ah, that makes sense. Although including “dementia” or “insane” in a blocklist of safe words is itself a bit curious, if it’s uniformly applied, then no harm, no foul.

      • I tried dementi for both Biden and Trump, and in both cases, Google went with dementia and offered for me to stick with dementi. The top stories all showed the right kinds of results, i.e. about dementia for one or the other candidate.
        Don’t understand the results for OhWhat. For Rich, it might be that di at the beginning.

  2. #2. Google searches can be fun – particularly regarding “woke” topics.

    For example, see what happened when Scott Adams (of Dilbert fame) entered “American inventors” into Google:

    Battleswarmblog provides additional insights into these curious search results:.

    Full disclosure: I tried it and got the same results. Probably just a coincidence.

    • Google is also a reflection of the inputs provided to it… And some people figured out how to troll the algorithm by constructing various linking campaigns. “French military victories” being one old example. Another one is that the search for “youth pastor” used to return only headshots of men with goatee facial hair–a time when many churches were building their staff pages for the first time. Now, there’s a large number of mugshots, a reflection of more news saturation.
      Black inventors is likely a consequence of newer writing having a larger black representation, or intentional manipulation by Google, or intentional manipulation by trolls.
      Sadly, all are complex possibilities, so occam’s razor isn’t easily applied.

  3. I believe that Google is manipulating results in support of an agenda. As an example, type “affh problems” into multiple search engines and compare the results. Google’s results are predominantly slanted at support for AFFH and condemning the Trump administration’s actions. In 2015 the Obama administration greatly expanded the reach and intent of AFFH with new regulations. The Trump administration has rolled back some of the regulations. Conveniently, it is a topic ignored by politicians and media but has implications for every community in the country. My opinion is it is an unconstitutional overreach by the federal government. There are other examples with other topics I have seen but this one is the most recent.

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