Lost Day Ethics Catch-Up, 9/19/2020: Even Ketchup Can’t Cover The Bad Taste Of This Post!

1.  Is it possible that this is real? A couple allegedly sent this email to wedding reception invitees, explaining that their meals would be determined by the value of the wedding gifts they planned on bringing.

Are there really people this crass? Who in their right mind would do anything but send a curt “Bite me!” note to such a couple, and resolve never to waste a second on them again?

2. OK, I don’t see anything wrong with this, at all. The assignment for an Iowa City school district online learning program asked students of all races to write four sentences about what they would do if they were a slave who was freed.

“Think very, very carefully about what your life would be like as a slave in 1865,” the students were asked.  “You can’t read or write and you have never been off the plantation you work on. What would you do when you hear the news you are free? What factors would play into the decision you make?” After an uproar from parents, the assignment was removed and the teacher was placed on administrative leave. A statement from the district called the assignment “inappropriate” and said it “does not support and will not tolerate this type of instruction.”

What would that be? Assignments that call for critical thought and imagination?

Dibny Gamez said her 14-year-old daughter, Ayesha, who is black, would not complete the assignment because it made her feel uncomfortable. “She just starts tearing up,” Gamez said. “And I was, like, ‘No, listen, you don’t have to be ashamed of who you are.’ I said, ‘You are beautiful for who you are. Don’t let not one soul make you uncomfortable for who you are.’” How would that assignment make a rational student be ashamed of who she is?

Justin Grinage, a professor of curriculum and instruction at the University of Minnesota , claims that assignments asking students to role-play enslaved people or slave owners trivialize or distort the actual events of slavery. “The best-case scenario with lessons like this is that students come away with a fabricated lie about history. So, best-case scenario, they don’t really learn anything, or they learn the wrong thing,” Grinage told reporters. “Worst-case scenario is that it’s a deeply traumatic experience for students of color, particularly Black students.”

Why? Because he says so? Such an assignment is an excellent way to open up the topics of slavery, how it persisted, what led to its abolition, and why it is such an emotional and controversial issue, as well as empathy, the Golden Rule, and ethics.

3. As much as  “The View’s” Joy Behar is a blight on society, she was mistreated this time. GOP congressional candidate Kimberly Klacik visited ABC’s “The View,” a brave act, since a show that lowers the IQ s of viewers has to be a serious risk for anyone actually appearing on the show.

When Klacik was asked about President Trump’s statement to Bob Woodward of wanting to “downplay” the severity of the Wuhan virus, Behar interjected,

“Excuse me, I have to say something to you. He told Bob Woodward that it was a very serious issue and it’s airborne and that it was terrible. And then he went out and told the American people, ‘Don’t wear masks, it’s all going to go away.’ You have to put some blame on your president. I’m sorry, you’re putting it on something extraneous here. Talk to the point, please.”

“Is this Joy speaking?” Klacik asked. “Is this the same Joy that paraded in blackface not too long ago? C’mon, Joy, I don’ think you should be asking these questions.”

That’s a pure ad hominem attack, unethical and below the belt.

Joy, of course, couldn’t come up with what was really wrong with Klacik’s tactic, being, as she is, an idiot.

“That’s not true!” Behar exclaimed. “Excuse me, excuse me! The Black community had my back! They know that that was not blackface, that was a homage!”

There hasn’t been any blackface that wasn’t some kind of “homage” or otherwise innocent attempt to portray a character or individual for non-racist motives since the minstrel shows ended. The decree that dark make-up violates a taboo and  justifies “cancellation” is a cynical power play, but there’s no reason Behar should be exempt when so many others have been targeted. That, however, is irrelevant to the episode. Behar’s “homage” as at a Halloween party long ago had nothing to do with the topic at hand.  Klacik, a black conservative, played the race card when she couldn’t come up with a persuasive answer.

If she were running in my district, that would be sufficient to lose my vote.

4. Of all the arguments for President Trump not to nominate a successor to Justice Ginsburg, this is the dumbest. Not surprisingly, it comes from Rep. Maxine Waters.

“Justice Ginsburg’s dying wish was that her seat would not be filled until a new president is installed!” Waters tweeted. WOW, is she ever an idiot. I’ve known this for decades, but the sheer depth of her idiocy still can surprise me. We don’t govern based on “dying wishes.” The expressed desires of a now dead Supreme Court Justice have no more weight or importance than the desires of any other citizen. Calling this a logical fallacy–it would fall into the “appeal to emotion” category—is too kind. Waters is incompetent and irresponsible.

23 thoughts on “Lost Day Ethics Catch-Up, 9/19/2020: Even Ketchup Can’t Cover The Bad Taste Of This Post!

  1. 2. That writing prompt seems to have been okay in principle, depending on the background of the kids and what they had been taught about slavery.
    But, it fails in practice for several reasons.
    It says, “Pretend you are a black slave and you just found out that President Lincoln freed you with the 13th Amendment. Also note that 4 million black slaves were freed in the South when the 13th Amendment was passed.” What??!!??
    It also is confusing. There are 3 parts to the assignment. The 1st requires a listing of “three options you have once you hear the news.” The 2nd requires students to write “four FULL sentences … explaining which option you would choose and why.” The 3rd requires students to write “four FULL sentences … explaining which options you would choose and why.”
    Aside from the historical errors and the repetitive writing prompt, a better assignment option would be to read the first chapter of Booker T. Washington’s book, “Up From Slavery”, in which he describes exactly what the newly freed slaves (by the enforcement of the Emancipation Proclamation) had to think and do. When he was freed, he was a few years younger than these students are now, but his insights would be more valuable to them than whatever this teacher thought she was teaching.

    • But none of that appears to have been related to why she was suspended. I agree, that’s incompetent teaching, but clearly teachers aren’t sanctioned for THAT, or they’d have to suspend thousands…hundreds of thousands.

      • It’s difficult to ferret out the truth, but news articles and Facebook posts help fill in some of the blanks. It appears the district’s action was based on a complaint (which may have involved more than just that one assignment) from one parent. I could not find any information about how the class may have been prepared for that kind of assignment; my impression is that the prompt was just right out of the blue and not part of a lesson on the history of slavery and emancipation.
        The student wrote a very nice email to the teacher (using more than four FULL sentences). She said she would not do the assignment because it made her feel uncomfortable, but that she was willing to do an alternate assignment. The teacher readily agreed and apologized for the “inconvenience”.
        It appears the parent then contacted the school with the result that the teacher was placed on leave. There were indications that the same teacher at the beginning of this school year in an online class had used the term “black” in a way that made some kids uncomfortable and made some other kids in the class laugh.
        Regardless, I think the teacher and the District should have explained to the parent their rationale for the writing prompt and reassured the parent that they were sensitive to racial issues. Placing the teacher on leave seems to be an overreaction. That there is an undercurrent of racial resentment and rage in the community may have been a factor in their decision.

  2. 1) Am I behind the times, or wouldn’t about 90% of people fall in the Roast Chicken category? Unless you are really close to the happy couple, that sure seems like some expensive gifts to me. I also note that vegetarians are apparently quite well off in those circles.

    2)Depending on the age of the students, that sounds like a really thought provoking assignment (assuming the students take it seriously).

    Of course, if you don’t like that one ask the students to describe how they would react if they were a private in the Army of Northern Virginia right after Lee had surrendered his army to Grant.

  3. 1. You have to pay over a thousand dollars to get a meal that doesn’t have meat in it? That sounds like extortion to me. I might as well bring my own lunch. And to apply the same restriction to kosher meals sounds like anti-Semitism. …Wait, wouldn’t most of the above meat options be kosher by default, unless they come with cheese or something?

    But wait, there’s more! If you sign up for the couple’s gift rewards program you can get five dollars back on every gift you buy them, using the mail-in rebate form! RSVP within the next ninety minutes and get 50% off your corsage or boutonnière!

    • In order to be kosher, I believe meat has to come from an animal that was slaughtered using specific methods and tools, and the meat has to be prepared in certain ways (all blood removed, for example). So it’s totally understandable that the kosher meal should cost wedding guests over a thousand bucks…

      The real question is, does the “your gift determines your meal” couple edge out these previous champs in the competition to be the worst wedding hosts ever?

      https://ethicsalarms.com/2020/07/28/ethics-quiz-and-poll-the-wuhan-wedding/

      • Absolutely. The gift tiers are an attempt to put rules and labels where they shouldn’t go in social relationships, and I’d wager they’re based on greed, snobbishness, or both.

        By contrast, I’m inclined to believe that the contingent RSVP group plan was an attempt to make the best of a logistical problem to try and accommodate as many people as possible. It was just tasteless.

  4. AOC also went on a tear about the evil Republicans disrespecting “a woman’s dying wish.”
    Sorry, you can use your dying wish to meet John Cena, or maybe be Batman for a day. You can’t use it to undermine the Constitution.
    People who were against the 19th Amendment probably imagined things like this as a worst-case scenario.

    • It’s not a “dying wish”. It’s a stubborn blindness to reality. The unpredictability of the grim reaper is a very easily observed truth, the central plot of many tear-jerker films, and even recorded in scripture, Ecclesiastes 9:12. Heck, it’s even central to comedy shows like ‘Dead Like Me’ and ‘Crime Scene Cleaner’. RBG may not have understood this until Scalia left. Surely as a judge she knew the rules of succession, she simply gambled that her time warming the bench would be more important than the mascot of the party holding the executive office when her seat gets cold.
      Dying wishes are reserved for kids with terminal cancer, soldiers on the battlefield, sealed envelopes alongside legal wills, and instructions whispered to spouses and close friends. To say “The deceased’s dying wish was just to live a little longer” is just patently absurd.

      • Ginsberg’s death appears to have come as a shock to the Secular Humanist Faithful. The new, predominant religion of our day appears to promise eternal life, here on Earth, or at least on the Supreme Court bench, to true believers who fervently and continuously profess their faith in liberalism and progressivism and the government’s ability to cure any and all ills with a bottomless pit of other people’s money and legions of paid government (sort of) workers. Who knows, maybe on the third day she’ll rise again? Would that be Monday? But wait, she’s Jewish. Do liberal Jews believe in an afterlife?

  5. People who invite a lot of guests to their wedding always seem to forget the most valuable sacrifice – time. Especially if you’re a middle aged man who isn’t particularly close to the bride and groom and would rather be anywhere else on a Saturday in June.

    Since my job makes the value of my time quantifiable, I would send the happy couple a bill for six hours of my time. Lobster please!

  6. RE: Point 3. You must keep in mind that Klacik was invited on to discuss her candidacy but was bombarded with demands she rebuke Trump. It was designed to be a gotcha interview and she fed the crap right back to Behar.

    Sure it would have been better if she had responded to the question about Trump’s response to Woodward by turning it back to campaign issues but why in the hell would Behar ask her about Trump’s statements other than to find an avenue of attack. What prompted Klacik’s response to Behar was that Klacik tried to turn the anti Trump questions back to the campaign issues when Behar interrupted her and said:

    “Excuse me, I have to say something to you. He told Bob Woodward that it was a very serious issue and it’s airborne and that it was terrible. And then he went out and told the American people, ‘Don’t wear masks, it’s all going to go away.’ You have to put some blame on your president. I’m sorry, you’re putting it on something extraneous here. Talk to the point, please.”

    Basically, Behar said if you won’t trash Trump you have no business here.

    Live by the sword you can die by the sword. I have no sympathy for blowhards of any political persuasion.

    RE: 4 I believe Scalia’s dying wish was to change places with Maxine Waters

    • But that’s all a rationalization, CM, as you know. The View is full of morons, top to bottom, Behar being the worst. An ad hominem attack is an admission that you can’t win an argument fairly, so you cheat. That’s sinking to their level. If you can’t beat a biased, ignorant fool like Behar on the strength of your logic and facts and have to resort to “Yeah? Well, you’re ugly!”, then you’re as worthless as she is.

      • I know it is a rationalization and I am in general aggreemeny. I have unfortunately come to the conclusion that honest debate is immpossible with people like Behar who use smears, lies and innuendo against her adversaries to gain points. Behar, et al set the rules of the show and Klacik played by them.

        Behar’s audience cares little about debate and learning otherwise they would not watch the show. Klacik played to the audience in hopes of picking up a few votes from viewers in the 7th congressional district.

        Like it or not politics devolves into these scurrilous attacks and to hold Klacik to a standard other seasoned veteran politicians will never achieve is somewhat unfair.

        When we ( I mean the public at large) castigate all politicians every time they resort to distortions, inflammatory rhetoric and ad hominem attacks (how often has Biden stated Trump is a racist) we will no longer need to rationalize behaviors. Klacik is reflective of the body politic.

  7. ”Think very, very carefully about what your life would be like as a slave in 1865,” the assignment reads. “You can’t read or write and you have never been off the plantation you work on. What would you do when you hear the news you are free? What factors would play into the decision you make?”

    “The best-case scenario with lessons like this is that students come away with a fabricated lie about history. So, best-case scenario, they don’t really learn anything, or they learn the wrong thing,” Grinage said. “Worst-case scenario is that it’s a deeply traumatic experience for students of color, particularly Black students.”

    I think we would have to establish as a base-fact that there is no conversation possible in our present on this topic where one would not receive those ‘lies of history’ Grinage refers to. But that proposes a starting-point for an examination of historIcal narratives.

    The more truthful *historical fact*, at least according to the research that I have been doing, is that slavery in the South was extremely benign if one compares it to slavery in other places in the New World — say in Cuba or in Brasil. So, I could say that there is a whole ‘history of lies’ about the unmitigated brutality of Southern slavery — the institution of Southern slavery. But how could one present those ‘truths’ in a present that must define slavery in the South as nothing less than a brutal hell?

    So it should be clear that — and this would be a starting-point — that 1) there cannot occur any conversation about the facts of the reality of slavery in the South in any classroom setting that could in any sense be based on truth or accuracy. There is no situation that I can envision — within the present dispensation of course — where such a conversation could occur.

    Still, that initial question has some potential. But it points to a certain discomfiting truth: the African man and woman within the condition of slavery did not in any sense work for nor achieve their liberation. Liberation was given to them and in a sense done to them. It would mean that your *freedom* is in a sense a continuation of your slave-condition. And this leads to whole ranges of insights that would be, I assert, nearly impossible to broach.

    But that is the interesting point: All of ‘history’ is always mediated understanding. And every aspect of American History dovetails with ‘the tenets of the American civil religion’.

    Good luck trying to separate them . . .

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