29 thoughts on “Friday Forum, Open For Business!

  1. I have had reason to think about the Julie Principle lately and I am struggling with how it is not a rationalization. Obviously it is not in the section, which probably means I missed something crucial, but here, following is what I continue to get hung up on. To help me out, I’m providing some examples. From our recent past, “Donald Trump is going to tweet stupid, unethical stuff as President.” Or, to keep the smears even, “Joe Biden gropes women on camera.”

    It seems to me that most applications of the Julie Principle are used to excuse some unethical behavior, by saying, “this is just how its going to be”. Trump’s going to tweet stupid stuff. Biden’s going to grope women on camera.

    Thus, if my understanding is correct (please correct it if I missed something), we have two ways to look at this, based on our ability to affect change. I will keep with the Donald Trump example. If we accept that Trump is going to tweet stupid, probably unethical stuff, are we not excusing him from tweeting stupid, unethical stuff because, “he’s going to do it anyway?” This way we don’t get worked up when an acquaintance routinely violates certain norms that they refuse to accept, even if they are wholly unethical, like the acquaintance who refuses to go to a function, and denigrates publically anyone who would go, because there is a “blackie” present? Or is it that our ability to affect him, since Donald Trump is a personage that most of us will never encounter, much less interact meaningfully with, is limited, so we should just get over it? If that is the case, does the Julie Principle not apply to an acquaintance with whom we have some ability to confront horrible actions, like the coworker who routinely, crudely, and loudly in the presence of anyone, especially female co-workers, proclaims how he is going to do explicit sexual actions with his wife when he gets home, which she loves since she’s a good woman, not like these girls who think they can work men’s jobs?

    The only other explanation I can come up with is that it is the severity of the actions, in the context of the culture of the offensive party, not the fact that the person will continually act unethically. Therefore, Trump talking the way he does on Twitter is no big deal, but Cosby raping women is. Obnoxious talk, especially by men in certain positions of authority, if not followed up by action is no big deal in some cultures (especially some of the more blue collar ones, though touchy feely liberal white collar circles find anything of the sort horrifying), but drugging and raping women is almost universally found to be horrible, except in some third world countries. In that case, what I find to be unconscionable for someone because of the culture I grew up in is not a problem for the culture the offender grew up in? For example, I grew up in a place and time where I could say who could touch me and how, but Biden grew up in a culture that said that older men could touch younger women familiarly even though it is unwelcome. Therefore I need the Julie Principle to forgive the fact that once again, an older male acquaintance groped my butt?

    Given that the Julie Principle is not in the Rationalization section, I feel like I am missing something vital, but after contemplating it for quite some time, I cannot figure out what it is. Can someone point out where my thought processes jumped the shark?

    • Judging by your explanation, I think the Julie Principle is covered by rationalization 1A, “We can’t stop it”.

      • No no no! It isn’t that rationalization, it’s a matter of dealing with reality. The fact that something won’t stop is not a reason to excuse it, but it does mean that bitching about it endlessly is a waste of time and efforts, and that one must consider future actions with the understanding that X is a constant. Now what?

        • I was reading something the other day about the “Exhaust the Charge Strategy”, which involves saying outrageously offensive things, pretending people misunderstood you, waiting for the media to blame the people pointing out the outrageous statements for “pouncing” and bullying you, then making more outrageous statements. The example given was Ilan Omar’s repeated anti-Semitic statements, but Trump’s tweets would fit the same pattern. Eventually people quit paying attention because the amount of outrage that can be sustained is limited, and eventually whoever is saying outrageously offensive things is just allowed to get away with it.

          I see a certain utility to the Julie Principal, but I also see that it can intentionally be used to move the Overton window on bad behavior. Tweeting nasty things becomes acceptable. Saying anti-Semitic things becomes acceptable.

          I think I agree with Sarah B that there is a fine line between using the Julie Principle as a utility and using it as a rationalization, and I’m not sure exactly where the line exists.

        • So for example, if I know that Joe Biden will grope women on camera, instead of complaining that it will happen, I should decide if I really want to stand for a picture with the President? Is that what this means?

          • No, because things can be done to stop Joe from groping people on camera (or otherwise), so it is not an immutable condition. The concept is that when an individual had shown the certain characteristics or conduct are essential and will continue, you decide “Do I want to put up with this, because of counter-balancing virtues and benefits, or not? If you decide to accept the flaw, accept the flaw; assume it, and understand that you have, in effect, waived to right to complain about it.

            • Ok, thanks for explaining that. I still have trouble with the application, but I do see how that is different from a rationalization.

            • That’s ethics accounting or a type of “preferred characteristics” King’s Pass-

              I like this guy for a wide variety of reasons so I can live with his unethical behavior in other realms.

              “Because I can’t stop it” is just surrender. And frankly there are times you can’t stop something and just live with it.

              But you are tolerating the unethical behavior.

              And it may or may not (depending on the circumstances and the behavior in question) be a valid utilitarian trade off.

              • “I like this guy for a wide variety of reasons so I can live with his unethical behavior in other realms.” That’s exactly what it is. And if you make that decision knowing what you have accepted, then its foolish to keep complaining about what you agreed to in the trade-off.

                Accepting what you can’t stop brings us back to the Serenity Prayer, which is both practical and ethical….if you really can’t stop it.

        • SO, is the “Julie Principle” really a way of saying, “so, what do we do now, knowing that X is always going to happen?” Perhaps it is the gravity or seriousness of the offense that should control. Using Sarah’s examples, there is a big difference between someone posting stupid things on social media and another person engaging in obviously obnoxious, if not outright offensive or criminal, conduct. A coworker proclaiming his sexual dalliances with his wife/partner/whatever is very different from someone posting that the January 6 incident did or did not happen. The former creates a terrible living/working condition for all involved; the latter is simply an inconvenience. The former should be dealt with and rather harshly; the latter can be ignored because no one is really harmed by it.


  2. Walked outside to go for a run last Sunday early afternoon and saw three (3) people (two [2] late teen boys with older woman [mother?]) and a dog on the sidewalk; one of the humans was stuffing his piehole with ripe fruit from my Meteor Cherry tree. Not just one or two, mind you, but one after another after another after another after another repetend….

    Me: “What the hell are you doing?”
    They: Thieving human rejoins group on sidewalk, all sporting imbecilic “oops, guess I got caught” looks on their stupid pusses.
    Me: “Where do you live, I’ll stop by and help myself to anything that catches my eye.”
    They/Mother: “Oh, they just looked so inviting.”
    Me: “You’re shitting me, right? Tell you what, leave your purse out on your front stoop, perhaps the money I find in it will prove inviting.”

    One-sided (yours truly) comments suggesting, in no uncertain terms, my…um…displeasure and incredulity with their entitlement mindset ensued until they were out of sight/hearing range.

    My lovely, long suffering and career Lefty wife; “you didn’t have to yell at them, now they’ll just remember you as that angry old man.”

    Me (never one to be overly burdened the opinions of thieves); “That’s just like reaching into my pocket and helping yourself to my pecuniary wherewithal; none of this would’ve happened had they_just_done_the_right_thing…ring the bell and ask.”
    Wife: “C’mon, who does that?”
    Me: “People who aren’t thieves, respect the property of others, and would prefer not to get their @$$e$ chewed by someone with precious little patience for the I Want It Now crowd.”

    Relatively innocuous/pain-free lesson, including but not limited to, NSFW language/references for thieves or over-reaction by someone who should more thoroughly-n-unquestioningly embrace a Feed The World approach?

    • When I was a child, there was a public children’s park a couple blocks from my house that had a cherry tree in the yard next door with branches hanging into the park. I confess. I ate the cherries on the branches hanging into the park. Then I felt very guilty, because I knew I probably wasn’t supposed to. I was 9, though, not a teenager. I think trespassing into a neighbors yard and eating their fruit is stealing. Adults, at least, should know better.

      • Good points, NP; had these been children, my reaction would have been far more measured.

        And it’s my understanding that anything that falls/hangs onto your property (and I presume public property) is fair game.

    • I think would have told them something like that the tree was treated with pesticide to keep the Japanese Beetles from eating the tree and watch them shove their thieving fingers down their throat to throw up on the sidewalk, then after they were done throwing up and freaking out I would say “just joking, now you thieves stay the fuck out of my yard and stop eating my food and you the mother, stop enabling these children to commit crimes.”

    • I live in Austin, Texas, where every year, when the pecans start dropping, you will see people carrying plastic grocery bags around on their walks, picking up nuts from the sidewalks and street gutters. There is an unspoken, but widely understood rule that anything that falls into the public thoroughfare is fair game for anyone, but straying into someone else’s yard to scrounge for pecans is a no-no.

      We have six pecan trees on our property, three in the back yard and three in the front. This provides us with a great opportunity to engage in some semi-scientific data collection. We’ve lived in this house for thirteen years, and there has been a steady drop in the number of pecans we collect from the front yard vs. the back. It was never equal, but there is definitely a lot more thievery going on than we would realize if we didn’t have the backyard trees as a control group, and it has gotten worse as the years pass. I’ve seen people rooting around right up by the house, in our bushes, by the front porch, etc, hunting pecans. Once, a family of three walked right up into the yard with my wife standing right there and began collecting pecans just a few feet from her.

      Needless to say, my patience wore out from this state of affairs very quickly, and a November hasn’t gone by in the last ten years where I haven’t cornered and chewed the ass of at least five or more pecan bandits trespassing in my yard. It wasn’t as big a deal initially, but after we removed all the grass and spent a tremendous effort on landscaping and gardening the entire front yard, it is infuriating to have some asshole tromping on a carefully-tended lantana or rosebush so they can steal seventy-five cents worth of nuts. Thus, they are always treated to a stern, high-decibel lecture that includes the reminder that we are in Texas, and prowling around in someone’s bushes is a very good way to take in a sudden and impromptu lesson about guns. I’ve never seen the same bandits twice, so the shouting must work, but I resent being placed in the situation where I have to impart these lessons. I have the same attitude as you, Paul – if they would bother to ask, I would likely give them permission. It’s the intrusion and entitlement that infuriate me. The loss of a few pecans will not starve me, but I will be damned if I’m going to look the other way for inconsiderate trespassing assholes.

      I hesitate to mention it, but I think it’s a relevant detail: the majority of the people I see doing this are of Asian descent (and most those either have poor English skills or feign such to blunt my tirades). I suspect they may be recent immigrants who come from cultures that do not interact with property rights in the same way Americans do. Ignorance may be part of it, but I think a large part of it is indifference – they either don’t know they’re not supposed to be scavenging in people’s yards, or don’t care. Either way, there seems to be a cultural element involved in it, at least in my narrow data set. Fortunately, “pissed-off” is a universal language that everyone speaks.

      Lastly, I think there’s something about trees that makes people feel communistic. As I said, we put in gardens in place of our grass in the front yard, including some herb and vegetable beds that are less than three feet from the sidewalk. We’ve never had anyone steal a pepper, tomato, or zucchini. The pecan trees and pomegranate trees seem to be thought of as community property, but the gardens are left unmolested. I wonder if there’s something about the perceived amount of effort involved that keeps people from stealing from a garden they know you invest labor into, versus a tree that they think just grows on its own (they don’t – I spend a lot of time and money on tree maintenance, but that’s less visible than someone weeding and watering a garden every day)?

      • “but I will be damned if I’m going to look the other way for inconsiderate trespassing assholes.”

        C’mon Jeff, if you feel strongly about this, no need to mince words…

        “I resent being placed in the situation where I have to impart these lessons.”

        THERE it is!

        “the majority of the people I see doing this are of Asian descent”

        We face south and our best sun is in the front yard, there we have ~ 280 sf of raised beds for my (IMO) world class tomatoes, peppers, and assorted herbs and greens.

        Late last summer I walked out and was surprised to see an older (READ: ~ my age) Asian woman at the bed closest to the house eying up my marvelous, and personal favorite, Mortgage Lifters.

        All of a sudden she plucks one, to which I meekly respond: What The F*CK Are You Doing. As an organic/start-from-seed-gardener, I take my tomato-n-pepper ranching pretty seriously.

        A who, me? look crosses her face as she looks over toward another box. Last year was an exemplary year and most of the vines were 5 1/2-6 feet/167.64-182.9 cms tall by that time, so I follow her line of vision and see the top of a head on the walkway between boxes. Turns out her husband’s standing there with a bag containing ~ 10-15 pounds/4.54-6.81 kgs of MY TOMATOES….Mountain Merit and Namio Heirloom to be specific.

        With her right next to him, I repeated my original inquiry, ramped up several orders of magnitude. They both had goofy expressions on their faces, which I interpreted as them not understanding my words but certainly understanding their intent; my being less than pleased.

        I emptied the bag, tossed it on the ground, and while pointing in the general direction of their house, told them to GIT. They just stood there, so I repeated my request several times, ratcheting up the volume each time. Apparently it got across to them; they finally started walking away, turning around a couple of times to look back with what seemed like an expression of “what’s THAT @$$hole’s problem.

        I believe they live with a son in a house I run past every day. If I ever see him out, I plan on bringing it up to him, if for no other reason that find out what behooved them to not only feel entitled to help themselves, but to help themselves to such a quantity…in broad daylight. /rant

        FWIW, the Mortgage Lifters, Mountain Merits (along with the Mountain Magics and Wisconsin 55s), and Zukes are in the back now.

  3. Trump recently called for US Army General Mark Milley to be fired for his testimony before Congress denying that the military is “woke.” Trump actually nominated Milley over USAF Chief of Staff David Goldfein (Mattis and Dunford’s choice) because he thought he had a better relationship with him, so at one point he was ok with him.

    I think that relationship fell apart in 2020, but I don’t think it was all on Trump. Milley was content to go along with a president who was not looking to involve the US in any new wars and rebuild the forces that had fallen to a low level under Obama. However, I believe that changed when things went completely out of control after the killing of George Floyd, and Trump was considering using the military to end rioting, especially in Portland, Seattle, and other places where the local authorities were getting no results (NOT without precedent, since precisely that was done in 1992).

    Mark Milley didn’t get where he is by not knowing how to play the political game. He knows this is his last active duty assignment and he’s going to be retiring in 2023 or thereabouts. He also knows that the Senate has to sign off on him retiring as a 4-star general or his rank drops to 2-star for purposes of retirement. He also wants to sit on corporate boards, maybe get a university president job, etc., all the perks that he’s worked for. He saw the way the political winds were blowing, and he knew if he did that, the Senate might well retaliate against him on his pension, and lefty academia and newly “woke” corporations would want nothing to do with him. He was VERY quick to disassociate himself from the president’s photo op in front of the church, although it’s now been revealed the police didn’t use heavy-handed tactics against peaceful protesters there, and to emphasize how apolitical the military was.

    Now he’s trying to walk the tightrope between not pissing off the progressive administration and not irking the GOP who might very well control the Senate when the day comes to hang up his uniform for the last time. I think he’s hoping to go out another Joseph Welch, who stood up to the excesses of crazy officeholders. Will it happen? I don’t know. One thing I do know, and that he surely knows, is that he won’t be around for the next president, whoever that may be. All he needs to do is hold onto his job until his term taps out. For the moment, the way to do that is by pleasing the woke. Otherwise, I submit to you he’d be looking for Antifa links in the military and would have said something to the effect of he had no patience for uncontrolled, violent radicals of any stripe in the US military. Contrary to what you might believe, although it’s perfectly all right for activists to be hot-blooded and passionate, national security (and also law enforcement) needs to be cold-blooded, dispassionate, and professional at all times. Despite what you might see in the movies, where the hero doesn’t win until he says “Now I’m REALLY mad!” there’s no room for uncontrolled anger, however justified, in the ranks of those charged with keeping others safe. The mission is what matters.

  4. https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/judge-orders-minneapolis-to-hire-more-police-officers-after-residents-sue-city/ar-AALHy4a?ocid=spartan-ntp-feeds

    Hopefully this puts an end to this stupid idea. Abolishing the police is an idiotic idea, it always was an idiotic idea, and it always will be an idiotic idea. Abolish the Department of Sanitation and garbage will pile up. Abolish the fire department and the place will burn. Abolish the police and crime will spike.

    • Seems to me that given that police are employed to enforce laws defunding the police would be equivalent to demanding the government relinquish its law making and enforcement powers. A government that cannot enforce its laws is a non government and reimagining policing in which unelected persons control enforcement is simply a bloodless coup where the new government makes and enforces the rules.

      If this is the case wouldn’t all those claiming to defund the police be insurrectionists?

    • johnburger2013 wrote, “I am curious, Ethics Alarmists. Is “Build Back Better” just a different way of saying “Make America Great Again”?”

      Well, both are built upon a “belief” that the United States of America has somehow been stripped of it prominence in the world and needed to be remade to achieve it previous prominence.

      Remember it’s the Big Lies that fire up a political base to get out the vote and both sides have been doing it for years; the political left perfected it with their propaganda war after November 2016 election.

  5. https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/nj-town-partners-with-jewish-rights-group-for-holocaust-education-after-student-dresses-as-hitler/ar-AALHY7o?ocid=spartan-dhp-feeds

    How’s this for a teacher and principal who are both ethics dunces? A little guidance would have prevented this debacle. I also have to ask, where were the kid’s parents in all this? I could think of a hundred WW2 characters and a hundred German characters to dress up as without dressing as the greatest villain in all the world.

    That said, who else is out? It’s easy to make a short list of prohibited dictators, but, do you tell an Italian kid he can’t dress up as Christopher Columbus or an Irish kid he can’t dress up as Michael Collins?

  6. Won’t go into details, but today I learned of a lawyer directly instructing someone to alter a car title and to use an email as justification for it. The car title says “Any alteration will make this document void.”

    I’m so close to opening an ethics complaint for incompetence.

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