Comment Of The Day: “Tit For Tat Ethics: The Anti-Biden-Pro-Trump Flags”

Mutual assured

Chris Marschner, in his Comment of the Day, once again raises the persistent ethics problem of when or whether unethical methods to foil the unethical acts and strategy of others become necessary, justified, and thus, except to the Absolutists, ethical. It is one of the great mysteries of ethics, and one that has never been answered to my satisfaction, or anyone’s satisfaction. This has many implications: the ethics of war is part of the controversy. So is capital punishment. And, of course, politics in general.

Here is Chris’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Tit For Tat Ethics: The Anti-Biden-Pro-Trump Flags”:

There is something to be said for the concept of Mutual Assured Destruction which is the ultimate Tit for Tat. The vitriol expressed against Trump and his supporter if left unchallenged will become the tactic of choice for all future challengers to the Democrat machine.

Political pendulums swing back and forth. The pendulum will not swing if sufficient numbers are not convinced that they are not alone. Complaining about what the AUC does has proven to be ineffective. Pick your poison – vulgar flags or riots. Flags such as these, while crass and vulgar, are simply tools to communicate that others feel as they do which gives more people an impetus for speaking out. The electorate seeks safety in numbers. These signs are no different that the BLM or End Racism signs in yards or “Tolerance” stickers on automobiles.

When the bully gets a taste of his or her own medicine the bully tends to behave differently. If there is a better way for the average person to broadly communicate a reasoned alternative perspective, when your local paper limits the number of letters to the editor for their position but promotes the printing of the paper’s preferred perspectives for whatever reason, well, I am all ears. These signs reflect who we are. Only when people see themselves in that mirror will they see just how ugly their own actions were.

Personally, I am tired of talking about the AUC [JM: For infrequent visitors here, the AUC is Ethics Alarms shorthand for the “resistance”/Democratic Party/ mainstream media alliance I call “The Axis of Unethical Conduct” for its behavior in response to the 2016 election.] and I am looking for ways to ethically combat their tactics. I will not, however, allow my liberties to be stolen through unethical practices so that I can be called an ethical player.

12 thoughts on “Comment Of The Day: “Tit For Tat Ethics: The Anti-Biden-Pro-Trump Flags”

  1. Once read a paper regarding a computer simulation where a bunch of programmed entities interacted with each other with several metrics among them simulating measures of trust and even things like willingness to cheat. On top of that, an unreliable communication channel was simulated between them (sometimes a good-faith transaction would appear to one side as a cheat).

    The simulation found that a tit-for-tat model was the most optimal when it had built in occasional forgiveness. Without forgiveness, a innocent mistake easily devolves into a feud, too much forgiveness and the entity fails to thrive without resources.

    I dont recall how much an optimal “occasional” is… But perhaps optimal is far more rare than what has been done, even taking into account Trump’s tendency to hold a grudge.

  2. I think the Just War Doctrine is applicable in this case. The doctrine states that in order to licitly engage in warfare, the following conditions have to be met:

    1. The evil inflicted by the aggressor has to be lasting, grave, and certain
    2. All realistic alternatives have been attempted and failed
    3. There is a realistic prospect of victory
    4. The engaging in warfare does not introduce greater evils than are being promulgated by the aggressor

    At this stage in the game, I feel confident that the evils being inflicted by the AUC are lasting, grave, and certain. Then we can ask if all realistic alternatives have been attempted. To do that, we would have to identify what the realistic alternatives are. I can think of reasoned discussion (failed), economic sanctions (failed so far, but could be escalated), legal recourse (some occasional success), political channels (disheartening, but technically possible), segregation (seems to be happening to some extent on the rural/urban divide), amicable separation (not tried), and armed separation (final recourse).

    When it comes to rude flags and riots, I think it is obvious those are lesser actions than secession, so it would not be reasonable to see if we’ve attempted secession before being rude. Given the societal rupture, I would also expect that secession would be a heavier-handed approach than riots, for while riots are violent, their impact is not necessarily enduring, whereas secession is meant to be enduring.

    So in light of failure to succeed in reasonable dialogue, the fact that boycotts don’t seem to work, and there are grave concerns about whether the swamp can be drained, we can ask if legal recourse is better than rude flags or riots. At the moment, I would think that is where the battles should be fought. Whenever the AUC attacks, its victims should stand their ground, and the seek recourse through the courts. When that actually occurs, it seems that the results are generally favorable. But will this method ultimately succeed, given the relentless assaults by the AUC? Maybe sufficient Supreme Court rulings against the AUC will have a reasonable impact on the AUC’s behavior. Or they could decide to pull the trigger on court packing, at which point I would believe any other reasonable means is untenable, and the conflict must begin.

    As long as following legal channels seems to be moderately successful, then other efforts, long-term and perhaps grass-roots, such as raising a homeschooled generation that still values ethics, grammar, rhetoric, logic, history, etc, could have an impact. Given the number of families moving to home-schooling, this actually seems promising, but it is a slow movement. We can’t expect success in just a handful of years. And if the legal system becomes intrinsically hostile to homeschooling (such as federal bans, which I’m not sure could survive a constitutional challenge), then maybe these long term efforts have to be ruled nonviable.

    Now, do rudeness or riots introduce graver evils than what are being fought against? Given the AUC embraces rudeness and riots, it seems that following through with rudeness and rioting just evens the evil across the board (though I would express that the rudeness is pretty well entrenched across the board already). But do these have any prospect of success? Rudeness does not. It might feel good, but it does nothing to resolve the issues. Rioting, on the other hand, could potentially have the needed effect. As Chris indicated, bullies tend to become rather pliable when confronted with their own tactics. I know that when I was picked on in school, the bullying would usually stop if I physically fought back. It either shocked and scared the bullies, or it gained their respect.

    However, given that we’re already facing talk of forming an anti-domestic-terrorist commission that seems to be nothing more than a front for suppressing, harassing, and discriminating unjustly against conservatives, rioting could backfire. It might bolster the narrative of conservative terrorism, and bring greater backlash.

    That being said, once of the corollaries of section 3 of the Just War Doctrine is that if you’re going to fight, you fight to win. If rioting seems to be the next most reasonable action to attempt against the AUC, then those willing to riot better be willing to escalate in full, armed conflict in order to win. To riot only to back down when faced with stiff opposition is worse than not rioting at all.

    So to conclude, I can’t fathom the rudeness ever being ethical. It doesn’t accomplish anything useful, and it paints the rude person in a bad light. Riots could become the ethical recourse (lesser of two evils) if it is certain that tyranny has descended and will stay otherwise, but it has to be engaged with the expectation of fighting the fight as intensely as called for in order to defeat the tyranny it is protesting against. But there are yet other methods available, and so rioting cannot yet be the ethical choice.

  3. Ryan,
    I have little use for banners that use epithets against those I oppose politically yet I do not think they are actually rude. Vulgar yes, rude no. These flags are like marketing messages to a particular demographic. The people who fly such flags would hardly be moved to action by the writings of William F Buckley.

    If I were to fault those who fly these banners and flags it would be because they are in essence just an emotional pressure valve which prevents the participant from taking real (read legitimate) actions. They would be better to give the cost of the banner to a legal group that fights in court for what they believe. Just as an End Racism sign in one’s front yard does nothing but signal the owners perceived virtue so too does the EFF Biden signs signal that owner’s perceived virtue. Assessing the magnitude and volume of Virtue signals is often how many people choose sides. They really don’t care. All they want is to be on the winning side.

    Your points are in line with my thinking. We should be tying up every single decree or piece of legislation that strips away some rights in the courts. However, until sufficient numbers of people find a leader who will give them a sense of protection they will simply remain “the bullied”.

  4. AUC, Anno Urbis Conditae, is the Roman system of numbering years by the time since the city was founded (though years were colloquially identified by who were the consuls then). It is not to be confused with AOC, which means Air Officer Commanding and identifies which RAF officer at a base (say) has that role. I thought everybody knew that.

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