Social Q’s Ethics: The Good, The Bad, And The Stupid

I mentioned earlier that I had stopped checking New York Times  Sunday advice column “Social Q’s” because its author, Phillip Gallanes, had apparently received the memo from Times brass so his advice and choice of queries were now primarily “woke” propaganda. However, reading material in our bathroom was recently in short supply, forcing me to peruse two recent Gallanes columns in which there was one interesting ethics issue raised, and two others that were a perfect examples of where Gallanes’ biases make him an untrustworthy advice columnist.

1. The photograph: The interesting issue regarded a daughter whose parents had recently died, and who was shocked that a valuable photograph was not directed her way in the distribution of the estate. It was, she said, second only to the parents’ home in value, and had appreciated in value greatly in the decades since it was given. Didn’t she have a right to get the photo, since she had given it in the first place? Wasn’t it unethical for the parents to treat it like the rest of their estate?

Gallanes properly pointed out that there was no basis for her assumptions in law or ethics. There are no strings attached to transfers of property unless they are made explicit at the time of the gift. What a cumbersome societal norm that would be: an estate is obligated to figure out the original source of every object of value and make sure they return to the original giver! What Gallanes didn’t say, and I would have, is “Who are you kidding? You want the valuable item, and have concocted a phony justification for claiming it.”

2. The vote. Another Social Q’s questioner wrote,

I came out to my mom as transgender once I got a job…The problem: She intends to vote for political candidates who want to deny me and other trans people basic rights and take back the few legal protections we do have. I’ve tried to explain to her that her votes will harm me, but she doesn’t care. And that hurts. Any advice?

Yeah, I have some advice: grow up. Everyone doesn’t have to vote according to what you believe are your own narrow interests. In fact, ethical citizens vote for candidates who will, if elected, do what on balance is in the best interests of the whole nation, not particular groups you may identify with. Single issue voting is the bane of democracy.

In addition, your mother’s vote doesn’t “harm you” in any substantive way. What you call harm is not being able to demand that she vote according to your preferences. This is just more of the popular “the fact that you have an opinion that is different from mine constitutes violence against me and makes me feel unsafe” distortion that is used to stifle dissent and non-conforming opinions on campuses, while training our young to be entitled weenies.

Gallanes, predictably, tells the angry daughter to be patient with old, stick-in-the-mud mom. “It may take an election cycle (or two) for her to connect [he love for you] with political support for other trans people,” he writes.

Or, the mother may continue to make the ethical decision that what .6% of the population feels is in its interests is not as important as what is in the best interests of the other 99.4%, and vote accordingly…like mature and responsible citizens should.

3. The dress. You can imagine my reaction to this one:

A new friend in the Midwest was invited to an outdoor Halloween party where mask-wearing was requested. We went shopping for an art-inspired costume for her. But I saw that she was gravitating toward period costumes. After the party, she posted pictures online. I was stunned! She wore a full-blown Scarlett O’Hara-type gown — to a mansion, no less! If I’d known, I would have tried to talk her out if it. This year’s widespread Black Lives Matter protests, along with the traditional whitewashing of the antebellum South, make her choice seem insensitive. I’ll be seeing her soon, and I already feel awkward. I know she’ll share details of the party, and I feel obligated to enlighten her. Any advice?

Gallanes eventually got around to the right answer, sort of, but began with…

“Casually masquerading as the heroine of a racist novel and film in which Black people are portrayed as happy slaves is problematic. Costume parties don’t offer enough context for racial commentary.”

  • “Gone With The Wind’ is not a “racist novel.” (I bet Gallanes hasn’t read it.) It’s a romantic novel about people who lived in a racist culture.
  • Nobody is ethically obligated to behave differently because a violent, proto-Marxist, anti-white, anti-police organization “protests” (aka riots) no matter how widespread such protests are.
  • I don’t know what “casually” is supposed to mean. Does masquerading as a literary character imply endorsement of that character’s moral and ethical choices and conduct? Since when and by what logic?
  • As Gallanes finally points out later, period fashion styles are not “insensitive.”

2 thoughts on “Social Q’s Ethics: The Good, The Bad, And The Stupid

  1. That’s the left for you. They think it’s perfectly ok to say say this, not that, wear this, not that, celebrate this, not that, vote this way, not that way. After all, they know best, and anyone who doesn’t agree with them is just not very smart and needs to be enlightened, or deliberately hurtful and needs to be stopped, but it would just be so much easier if you disagreeing folks would just come around to our way of thinking…

  2. 3. About eight years ago my wife and I were visiting one of the several “Gone With the Wind” museums in the Atlanta area. It was mid-week and not a particularly busy day, and we were leisurely perusing the displays and exhibits. Near us, two African-American women (a mother and daughter, it turned out) were commenting favorably on some of the original wardrobe pieces and reproductions that were on display. My wife engaged them in conversation about the construction of one of the gowns. They chatted for several minutes about the gowns and sewing, and the film in general. The women talked about how much they liked GWTW, how many times they had seen the film, and told us they had visited all the area museums several times. The museum we were touring sold dressmakers patterns for the reproduction antebellum gowns as worn in the film by Scarlett O’Hara, and these two women bought a couple of the patterns. They were planning to wear the dresses to some sort of community social function in the near future. Fast forward to 2020, and I can’t even imagine the “woke” reaction to two African-American women wearing Scarlett O’Hara dresses to a social function! I can just see some white twenty-something Leftist lecturing them on the error of their ways!

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