1 As predicted, the police shooting of a black teenager with a semi-automatic weapon resulted in a new round of riots, this time in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin because the officer involved was not indicted for 1) being a police officer, and 2) having to shoot a an African American who 3) resisted arrest. Of course.
Riots are unethical. Demonstrating against responsible and fact-based law-enforcement decisions whether to prosecute is unethical. Creating a culture in which it is presumed that enforcing the law against a particular race is racist is unethical. This is all what one political party, just one of two, is supporting, rather than clearly condemning. That too is unethical.
And supporting such a party is unethical, as well is ignorant.
While I was typing this, an ad, not “approved by Donald Trump,” featured a woman being terrorized in her car by a mob, and noted that the Biden-Harris ticket would try to disarm citizens while “defunding the police.” “Vote Against Biden-Harris to keep safe” the ad concluded.
I think that’s entirely fair.
2. I did not watch the Pence-Harris debate, and I may not even review the video or the transcript. There should be nothing left to learn about Harris at this point, after watching her giggling, incompetent performances in the Democratic candidates’ debates. I assume she made numerous counter-factual assertions, and I assume the best she could do was to level pre-scripted ad hominem attacks on the President to pander to the Trump Deranged Democratic base. I assume no one asked her about the apparent hypocrisy of her enthusiastic alliance with a serial sexual harasser and the object of a rape accusation when she savaged a nominated Supreme Court Justice based on far less. I assume no one will ask how she defends the open decision to base the critical choice of who stands “a heartbeat from the Presidency” on nothing, literally nothing, but skin color and gender, resulting in Harris being chosen despite no relevant experience and clear rejection by voters in the primaries. And I assume the Vice-President was stolid, professional and boring, as he always is, thus sparking comparisons with the President’s uncivil, un-Presidential but wholly Trump-like performance in the first Presidential debate.
3. Which reminds me: by what possible thread of logic can the President conclude that he “won the debate’” as he said once again yesterday? Does he believe that? How could be believe it? What is his definition of “won”—that he was happy with his performance? Is he surrounded by nothing but toadying yes-men and yes-women who have showered him with praise for employing an undisciplined, really stupid and offensive strategy when it was obvious that the more he let his diminished opponent talk uninterrupted, the less capable he would appear? Does that mean that the President will employ the same uncivil and obnoxious techniques in future debates?
4. On an awkward note for me, I guess I should say something, however inadequate, regarding the Go Fund Me effort that has been set up on behalf of Ethics Alarms. That would be “I don’t know what to say.” I haven’t looked at the page nor read any of the comments here related to it. I assume everyone knows that my periodic bellyaching about my frustrations regarding the blog and being an ethicist generally is not aimed at attracting sympathy and certainly not charity. I expound on my annoyances as a matter of full disclosure. This is a blog, and by definition more personal than a straight professional ethics website would be. My state of mind does risk affecting my judgment on some issues, though I try mightily to be objective. Readers should know about the static that surrounds what is supposed to be professional analysis.
I also, as close personal friends know, have never been comfortable with any positive statements or gestures regarding my conduct, or being the object of praise or honors. I even detested birthday parties as a child; my last one was 39 years ago, before my wife had figured this quirk out. I have plaques and award certificates scattered all over the house, gathering dust, wrinkles and mold. I don’t take photographs or keep mementos of what some would consider personal triumphs or successes.
That is not to say that I don’t appreciate being appreciated, or knowing that what I devote my passions and energy to are having a positive effect on others. That’s what I care about; it is why I have never accepted a job just for the money since I got out of law school.
I still don’t know what to say. Obviously.
5. Back to ethics: I know that I have said that I won’t promote Philip Galane’s Social Q’s advice column any more since he can’t resist “resistance” showboating, but his last column had a classic ethics question.
The issue: a questioner was given a lift to her dental appointment by her room mate, and because she was late for the appointment, the roommate was speeding. She was pulled over, and the questioner was indignant when her roommate handed her the ticket to pay. After all, she didn’t tell the roommate to speed.
This is one of those situations where both parties need to exhibit ethical instincts to reach an ethical result. It is the driver’s fault, and her assuming that the questioner was obligated to pay for the ticket is wrong. Yet the room mate was ticketed while offering help: the questioner should offer to pay the ticket, but isn’t obligated to. (If the room mate crashed the car speeding, would the questioner be obligated to pay for repairs? If she ran down a pedestrian…well, you see the problem.) Ideally, both parties would acknowledge shared responsibility, and agree to split the penalty.