Sunday Evening Ethics, 11/22/2020: A Day That Changed Everything Edition

One of the things November 22 changed was my wedding: we were scheduled to get married on November 22, 1980, until I protested that I did not want to have the anniversary of what was going to be one of the happiest days of my life coincide with one of the most traumatic days in my childhood, and in the nation’s history.

On this date in 1963, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States, was assassinated while traveling through Dallas, Texas, in an open-top convertible. Kennedy was, in some ways, the opposite of Donald Trump, a youthful, inspiring, charismatic President who radiated promise and good will, and who seemed poised to lead a united and vibrant America into the second half of the 20th Century. It was all hype: JFK’s was the ultimate “golden dancer presidency” even before Barack Obama. As P.J. O’Roarke writes this week in Commentary, Kennedy “was a man of no abiding political principles, a plagiaristic pseudo-intellectual, a liar about his health and fitness, and a gross philanderer. But, it turns out, he also wasn’t a very nice guy.” Yet he made the nation feel good, optimistic, excited about the future. His sudden death was shattering and transforming in ways, I would argue, even 9/11 couldn’t match.

The previous assassination had occurred when McKinley was shot, leading us into the era of Teddy Roosevelt and Progressivism. Kennedy’s death made the U.S. lurch into the Vietnam era, campus activism, civil rights protests, Richard Nixon and Watergate, and the drugs, sex and cynicism of the Sixties. They might be listening to more boring music in the multiverse where JFK lived to a ripe old age, but I’d take my chances with it.

Talk about an ethics train wreck! Gross incompetence allowed Kennedy to be vulnerable to a sniper that day. The Dallas police let Jack Ruby shoot and kill Lee Harvey Oswald on live TV. The official Warren Commission report of 1964 concluded that neither Oswald nor Ruby were part of a larger conspiracy to assassinate President Kennedy, but few believed it, and irresponsible conspiracy-mongers from Jim Garrison to Oliver Stone were able to exploit the giant holes in the report to plant a cancer of suspicion and distrust that has thoroughly metastasized. In 1978 Congress issued a “preliminary report” that Kennedy was “probably assassinated as a result of a conspiracy” that may have involved multiple shooters and organized crime.

That was one magic lugee.

1. And while we are on the topic of cult figures who died tragically…Netflix’s “The Crown” has revived all-matters-Diana, and now the BBC has reopened an inquiry into how journalist Martin Bashir arranged his sensational interview with the late Princess in which she openly attacked the Royal family and Prince Charles. A two-part documentary that aired on the British network ITV on last week included allegations that Bashir used dishonest tactics to earn Diana’s trust and persuade her to tell tales “out of school” with candor unprecedented in Royal Family history.

The documentary claims that Bashir used doctored bank statements to convince Diana that royal employees were being paid to spy on her.The British Broadcasting Corporation, which originally aired the interview on its “Panorama” program, announced that it would open an independent investigation into the allegations.

Martin Bashir? Where have I heard that name before? Oh, right, now I remember. He was the MSNBC host who had to resign after saying on the air that someone should shit in Sarah Palin’s mouth. But surely someone like that would never use unethical tactics to get the scoop interview of the century…

2. Remember, Biden fans, this is the America you voted for…The Duke Panhellenic Association , which “unites women across 10 chapters” of various sororities and is the “largest unified body of undergraduate women at Duke University,” voted to ban chapters of member sororities from hosting “mixers” with all-male organizations. A post on the Duke Panhellenic Association’s Instagram page says this measure is designed “to focus on women’s empowerment” since all-male organizations “cause concern” due to gender dynamics and the objectification of women. In other words, boys…

3. And this is why there will be no lockdown, shouldn’t be a lockdown, and why anyone who submits to a lockdown is a gullible, submissive fool whom our forbears would spit on, and justifiably so.

Just days after New York’s Governor Cuomo ordered New Yorkers to limit private gatherings to no more than 10 people as part of new Wahan virus restrictions, photos of a party for Carlo Scissura, head of the powerful construction trade organization New York Building Congress, showed revelers in close quarters without masks. “This is a particularly trying time and there were shortcomings that I regret,” Scissura said in a statement. “I greatly appreciate the gesture of my friends to throw me a surprise party, but we all must follow strict protocols so we can get past this pandemic.”

Right. Attendees included Deputy Brooklyn Borough President Ingrid Lewis-Martin and former Brooklyn Democratic Party Chairman Frank Seddio.

One photo shows about two dozen people mingling with one another in an ornate dining area. Only two of them are visibly wearing masks. Another shows a dozen people crammed in the same dining area, with just one person wearing a mask.

Our political leaders are hypocrites who are using the pandemic to exercise social control and to abuse their power. They have forfeited all credibility.

4. And now for something completely strange…this:

Finger salute grave

Thirteen-year-old Kayla Carle, of Aberdeen, Scotland suffered from cystic fibrosis, and woke up from a coma after catching the flu last year. She was confined to a wheelchair, and after several months, died as a result of another infection and lung damage.

“In Loving Memory Of Kayla Leanne Carle,” her epitaph reads. “C.F. Warrior … Beloved Daughter, Sister, Granddaughter, Niece, Cousin & Friend. Rip Babe.” A photo on her headstone at the Hazlehead Cemetery shows the teen flipping the bird at, oh, who knows? Her fate, the cosmos, the world, the illness that killed her. It’s a gesture of defiance.

Incredibly, the town’s City Council contacted the family and said someone had complained that the photo was offensive, and equally incredibly, the Council suggested that it be removed.

One person complained? So what? By what tortured logic does a stranger have the standing to protest my gravestone? What gives a government body any authority to harass a citizen about how it chooses to remember and honor a dead child?

This isn’t even a civility controversy. Nobody has any justification for being “offended” by a stranger’s headstone. This is why autonomy is an ethical value. Stop trying to control the conduct of others when it has no conceivable relationship to you or society.

Particularly when those others are dead children.

.

17 thoughts on “Sunday Evening Ethics, 11/22/2020: A Day That Changed Everything Edition

      • Hmm… Not sure if it went to spam or if wordpress doesn’t like offering plugins in comments and killed it, but there’s a wordpress plugin to disable the Gutenberg editor. I may be getting too cynical about tech companies because of Google and Twitter.

        My attempt to post the link sent me to a new page with a comment number in the address, but no comment actually appeared.

  1. And this is why there will be no lockdown, shouldn’t be a lockdown, and why anyone who submits to a lockdown is a gullible, submissive fool whom our forbears would spit on, and justifiably so.

    Or you might get something like this:
    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-11-18/act-canberra-records-one-new-covid-case-coronavirus/12894476

    A returned diplomat in quarantine has become the ACT’s latest case of COVID-19.

    The man, in his 30s, entered Australia on Sunday and travelled to Canberra by private vehicle.

    “This is a returned diplomat who has been in quarantine. There are two close contacts identified who are also in quarantine,” ACT Minister for Health Rachel Stephen-Smith said.

    “The risk to the ACT community from this individual is a very low risk.”

    The man’s wife, and the driver who took him from Sydney International Airport to Canberra are both isolating.

    Foreign diplomats need to quarantine for 14 days upon their return to Australia, but are legally permitted to “quarantine at their mission or usual place of residence,” ACT Health’s website states.

    The man is the 115th case in the ACT, and the only active case.

    The ACT’s previous case was also a returning diplomat.

    Public health emergency extended to February

    Ms Stephen-Smith also announced an extension of the current public health emergency well into next year.

    “Yesterday I signed the notifiable instrument to extend the public health emergency in the ACT under the Public Health Act,” she said.

    “That has now been extended for a further 90 days, from the 19th of November to the 17th of February.

    “The public health emergency declaration is what empowers the Chief Health Officer to make directions and to take decisions to protect the health of Canberrans in the face of this global pandemic.”

    Ms Stephen-Smith also urged Canberrans against becoming complacent.

    “Until there is a vaccine … we will be living with COVID-19, and we all need to take responsibility for that,” she said.

    “So again, reminding people, and I’m sure the South Australian situation has reminded people, that everybody has a role to play in terms of responding to this global pandemic, keeping up those good habits we’ve built up, and being a little bit patient in terms of the restriction that are still in place.

    “We are doing very well in the ACT but we don’t want to put that at risk by being complacent.”

    • The ACT has a population of about 400,000.

      https://www.marketwatch.com/story/south-dakota-emergency-room-nurse-says-some-patients-insist-covid-19-isnt-real-even-as-theyre-dying-from-it-2020-11-16

      South Dakota has had 65,381 confirmed cases and at least 644 deaths, the tracker shows. Its hospital system is at 64% capacity, according to its health department, while ICU beds are at 67% capacity.

      “We’re managing our patient loads, here right now … but the reality is, it’s not getting better,” said Doering.

      South Dakota’s positivity rate is estimated at 50% to 60%, she said. “We have 880,000 people — it doesn’t take much to do the math on that to figure out how many of us are sick.” (The Census Bureau estimates the state’s population at 884,659 as of July 2019.)

      Some patients are so convinced the virus does not exist that, when they test positive, they insist it must be flu, pneumonia or even lung cancer, said Doering.

      Nurses, for their part, are watching patients get sick in the same ways, receive the same hospital treatment and then die in the same way — and then the nurses come back the next day as the cycle repeats. “It’s like a movie where the credits never roll,” Doering said.

      The Dakotas are currently the epicenter of the U.S. pandemic with the fastest moving per capita case numbers, according to data tracked by Johns Hopkins University and the states’ own health departments.


      Gullible fools. Dead ones. But not submissive, right, except to a con artist in the White House.

      We may be gullible fools for listening to all those egghead scientists, and taking simple precautions like keeping 1.5m away from one another, or wearing masks if that’s not possible. Take away only in food caterers, indoor dining with 4 sq m per customer, and other horrendous imposts on our civil liberties.

        • http://www.cnn.com/2020/06/05/health/health-care-open-letter-protests-coronavirus-trnd/index.html

          “However, as public health advocates, we do not condemn these gatherings as
          risky for COVID-19 transmission
          . We support them as vital to the national
          public health and to the threatened health specifically of Black people in
          the United States. We can show that support by facilitating safest
          protesting practices without detracting from demonstrators’ ability to
          gather and demand change. This should not be confused with a permissive
          stance on all gatherings
          , particularly protests against stay-home orders.
          Those actions not only oppose public health interventions, but are also
          rooted in white nationalism and run contrary to respect for Black lives.

          Protests against systemic racism, which fosters the disproportionate burden
          of COVID-19 on Black communities and also perpetuates police violence, must
          be supported.” – 1200 public health experts (emphases mine)

        • You’re not going to get through to anyone living in the Fox News cinematic universe.

          Maybe not. Probably not. Almost certainly not.

          Moreover, some of them are not very nice people. Obnoxious, Assholes, Ignorant and proud of it.

          But human.

          People.

          Save ’em all and let God sort ’em out.

          I can’t help caring, wanting to save lives if I can, with what poor tools I have available. Probably ineffective, but I’m doing this for me, not for them. I have a really high opinion of myself, as you have no doubt noticed. In order to keep on fooling myself that this opinion is justified, sometimes I have to do stuff like this.

          And who knows.. maybe it will actually help, despite the odds. Maybe enough opinion will be swung to make a difference. It’s happened in the past.

          • Obligatory Dr Who reference, even if a tad pretentious. As a keyboard warrior, my own life isn’t exactly on the line here, is it? I risk nothing, except looking like a right Prat.

      • As far as I know, your egghead scientists had not yet forfeited any reasonable expectation of trust.

        https://ethicsalarms.com/2020/06/08/oh-no-its-monday-ethics-review-6-8-2020-a-yoos-rationalization-orgy/

        “However, as public health advocates, we do not condemn these gatherings as
        risky for COVID-19 transmission
        . We support them as vital to the national
        public health and to the threatened health specifically of Black people in
        the United States. We can show that support by facilitating safest
        protesting practices without detracting from demonstrators’ ability to
        gather and demand change. This should not be confused with a permissive
        stance on all gatherings, particularly protests against stay-home orders
        .
        Those actions not only oppose public health interventions, but are also
        rooted in white nationalism and run contrary to respect for Black lives.

        Protests against systemic racism, which fosters the disproportionate burden
        of COVID-19 on Black communities and also perpetuates police violence, must
        be supported.” – 1200 public health experts (emphases mine)

        • As far as I know, your egghead scientists had not yet forfeited any reasonable expectation of trust.

          Good point, well said, and backed up with cogent and convincing evidence.

          Alas, scientists are human, they screw up for the best of motives. We try to minimise that – or are supposed to.

          When, not if, I do the same, please do me a great favour and apply a few hits to my head with a clue bat. Ta.

      • Positivity rates are a function of numbers of tests given. Those being tested may have a symptom they want confirmed as negative. What is the % of people doctors see for the flu have the flu? Probably quite high because people seek medical advice when they believe something is wrong most of the time. That means that the people tested are not a random sample of the population and thus extrapolating that 50% number to the entire population is statistical malpractice.

        Personally, I would prefer if the fearful from the metro areas stay locked inside an stop coming to western Maryland and crowding our rail trails. I prefer the solitude.

  2. Nov 22 1963 was the scheduled start on BBC of the new series “Doctor Who”. But it was delayed 24 hours due to the news from the US, the tapes flown over the Atlantic by Jet aircraft.

    At age 5, I had just learnt enough to operate our brand new cutting edge high tech device, the Black and White 485 line TV set.

    Expecting this new and exciting series 3 minutes after the set warmed up, I was confronted with the pictures from Dallas of an event I only dimly understood.

    A few years later, our family journeyed a few miles east of our house to see the dedication of the JFK memorial at Runnymede.

    (Yes, the place where Magna Carta was signed.. it is a very historically crowded area)

  3. Active Covid19 Cases Victoria, Previous Mondays (announced Tuesday mornings):

    10 Aug: 6951
    17 Aug: 5283
    24 Aug: 3535
    31 Aug: 2326
    7 Sep: 1566
    14 Sep: 931
    21 Sep: 577
    28 Sep: 264
    5 Oct: 154
    12 Oct: 135
    19 Oct: 76
    26 Oct: 38
    2 Nov: 15
    9 Nov: 4
    16 Nov: 3
    23 Nov: 0

    It can be done. Victoria has a population of 6.5 million, 5 million of which are in one city.

    In both area and population, it’s comparable to Minnesota. (Currently around 45,000 cases, but in August, less than 5,000).

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