In St. Anthony Minnesota, someone sent home owner Kim Hunt an anonymous letter reprimanding her for decorating her home with the modest Christmas lights seen in the top photo above. Three other residences in the neighborhood received the same letter:
The writer, of course, is nuts.
I don’t know what kind of derangement this is—White Guilt Derangement? Hair-Trigger Offense Derangement? Social Justice Obsession Derangement?—-but whoever composed this is one sick mamajama, and we all should pity her or him, as the individual’s brains have obviously been frizzled by the pandemic, or the George Floyd Freakout, or my living in Minnesota, which is not exactly a model of sanity these days itself. At least the individual was not so addled that the letter was signed, although sending presumptuous, sanctimonious and stupid letters like this—has there ever been a letter this presumptuous, sanctimonious and stupid letters?—without having the guts to own up to it is another ethics breach in addition to sending the thing at all.
Kim posted the letter on social media, naturally, and the reaction was predictable: widespread outrage and mockery., which is, I think we can all agree, well deserved. Several commenters expressed a willingness to help redecorate Hunt’s home in the tasteful manner of Clark Griswald’s house (The lower photo above) in the inexplicably popular Christmas comedy, “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.” This, in turn sparked a GoFundMe page seeking funds so Hunt could do just that, and really offend the daylights out of the anonymous scold.
Thus we have a rare example of the Christmas decorations application of the Ethics Alarms Niggardly Principles, of which there are three:
The First Niggardly Principle: “No one should be criticized or penalized because someone takes racial, ethnic, religious or other offense at their conduct or speech due to the ignorance, bias or misunderstanding by the offended party.”
The Second Niggardly Principle: “When an individual or group can accomplish its legitimate objectives without engaging in speech or conduct that will offend individuals whose basis for the supposed offense is emotional, mistaken or ignorant, but is not malicious and is based on well-established impulses of human nature, it is unethical to intentionally engage in such speech or conduct.”
The Third Niggardly Principle: “When suppressing speech and conduct based on an individual’s or a group’s claim, sincere or otherwise, that such speech or conduct is offensive, however understandable and reasonable this claim may be, creates or threatens to create a powerful precedent that will undermine freedom of speech, expression or political opinion elsewhere, calls to suppress the speech or conduct must be opposed and rejected.”
With these in mind, here is your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day:
Would it be ethical to “Griswald” Hunt’s home?
Pointer: Other Bill