Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 8/26/2021: Should We Never Again Use “Never Again!” To Refer To Something That Never Should Happen Again…And Other Matters

I’m not a big Liza Minelli fan, and for over a decade now she has been rather pathetic (perishing early, like her mother, can be a smart career move for some artists), but still: I wonder if her film-ending performance of the title number in “Cabaret” is the most exhilarating solo by a female singer in any movie. It’s substantially the way the song is directed (by Bob Fosse), of course, that makes it so effective, but even so: the moment is a great legacy for Liza even if everything else in her career fades from memory. Just as Saroyan was right that if one human being sings your song, you haven’t lived in vain, creating one unique moment that inspires or uplifts others is a gift to the world.

And Liza’s moment also is a tonic I turn to to get me ready to face the day when the prospect of thinking and writing about ethics makes me want to go back to bed. Like right now.

1. Wait, I thought Joe Biden was supposed to be a nice guy! In an article about Andrew Cuomo’s final days in office, I learned that President Biden, who is a “close personal friend” of the now ex-governor of New York, has not spoken to him since Cuomo resigned two weeks ago. What kind of “close friend” is that? Whether Cuomo was treated justly or not (he was), his life has fallen apart in chunks this month (and began doing so months earlier). This is when friends, real friends, are most essential, and also when fake friends show their true character. Joe Biden’s entire political career has been built on the assertion that he is, whatever other flaws he might have (like being a lifetime chowderhead), a good, loyal and trustworthy person. Well, he’s not. This is hardly the first evidence we’ve seen of that, but it’s signature significance.

2. Is saying something should never happen again really “comparing it to the Holocaust”? This is Thursday, meaning that I get a lot of substack newsletters from pundits who want me to subscribe to theirs. Craig Calcaterra, the baseball writer whose product I will not pay for untilhe stops filling it with opinions on things he knows no more about than most people, filled today’s free offering with (let’s see) 740 words of baseball analysis (not counting brief accounts of last night’s games) and 2, 326 words about Republicans he hates, Billy Joel albums. and, most of all, a local school board member where he lives who wrote on his Twitter account,

And if we are to truly learn from our mistakes these past 18 months Just as Jews after the horrors of the Holocaust We must declare, and implement laws to assure “Never Again” . . .Never again should we delegate policy authority to those qualified only to provide narrow advice Never again should we willingly sacrifice liberty without objective proof of imminent harm, and an objective restoration plan — in advance . . . Never again should emergency government authority extend beyond 7 days without legislative consent, reconfirmed every 7 days Never again should we blindly follow experts, regardless of the initials after their name, if they don’t provide proof, show their work & admit error . . . Never again should we EVER sacrifice the needs of children to the unfounded fears of adults.”

The writer is Jewish, by the way. Calcaterra uses the “offensive comparison” as a version of ad hominen attack to excuse him from the task of rebutting the writer’s substantive arguments and appeal to emotion, which is why I would never evoke the Holocaust in such a context simply as a matter of advocacy strategy. However, the school board member wasn’t comparing the genocide of 6 million Jews to pandemic totalitarianism, but stating that similarly absolutist policy prohibitions are appropriate after what we have learned from the past year and a half. There are a lot of things the U.S. has done that deserve a “Never again!” label—electing an obviously progressive dementia case as President, for example. Critics of the label are obligated, though, to deal with the reasons for making that claim, and should not be allowed to get away with “How dare you insult the victims of genocide by comparing what befell them to electing Joe Biden!”

3. “Have you, at last, no sense of decency?” Michelle Goldberg, one of the Times’ most reality-averse leftist columnists, authored an op-ed yesterday claiming that all that is occurring in Afghanistan as a result of the incompetent Biden “Run away!” order was inevitable, since there was no “decent way” to end the war. We can expect more of such desperate attempts to shield progressives and Democrats from accountability, especially after Americans are trapped.

4. Two NYC judges decide it is appropriate to sentence defendants to Wuhan virus vaccinations. A judge in the Bronx and another on Manhattan required defendants to get vaccine shots. One defendant was seeking a plea deal, the other seeking bail. Neither defendant objected for religious reasons or other principled objections, making the issue moot in their cases. However, law professor and legal ethicist Stephen Gillers, a reliable progressive, expressed ethics qualms.

I think that this requirement fits within the broader category of the judge’s responsibility for the safety of individuals or the public generally,” Prof. Gillers said. However, he added that we give the judges power over the lives of others that has to be used sparingly. These judges are saying,”I’m going to help you be a better person,” Gillers concludes, “And I don’t think that’s his job. As a therapist, perhaps, but not as a judge.”

I would describe the analyses of these cases by various legal ethicists as “mealy-mouthed.” That’s because, I believe , of the strong progressive bias in my field. For example, on the issue of whether such orders involve unethical intrusions on citizen’s bodily integrity, Bruce Green, a professor at Fordham Law and a former federal prosecutor, said that he did not see the orders as an “incredible intrusion into someone’s bodily integrity.”

Oh, a government order intruding on an individual’s bodily integrity is only unconstitutional if it’s “incredible,” is it? Interesting standard. Cite, Counselor?

“It’s actually doing the defendant a favor because it’s keeping them safe and it’s doing the community a favor by making sure this person’s less likely to transmit the virus,” Green added.

I never want to hear an argument like that again.

11 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 8/26/2021: Should We Never Again Use “Never Again!” To Refer To Something That Never Should Happen Again…And Other Matters

  1. “It’s actually doing the defendant a favor because it’s keeping them safe and it’s doing the community a favor by making sure this person’s less likely to transmit the virus,” Green added.

    Maybe he could have said it this way.

    “It’s actually doing the Jews a favor because it’s keeping them safe and it’s doing the community a favor by making sure this person’s less likely to lash out against them.” Green added.

    “How dare you insult the victims of genocide by comparing what befell them to…”

    Opps

  2. “It’s actually doing the defendant a favor because it’s keeping them safe and it’s doing the community a favor by making sure this person’s less likely to transmit the virus,” Green added.

    Why this vaccine?

    Why was this not done for measles, mumps, nor polio?

    Have you ever heard of the LaRouche Initiative?

    http://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/pdfplus/10.2105/AJPH.78.4.411

    Proposition 64, the LaRouche Initiative, runs counter to all public health principles. Contrary to the claims of this Initiative’s supporters, AIDS is not a casually transmitted disease, and its transmission will not be curtailed by mandatory testing, banning of persons with AIDS or with antibodies to the AIDS virus from either educational or commercial food establishments, or quarantine of any who carry the AIDS
    virus Passage of Proposition 64 would be a public health disaster-for people afflicted with AIDS, for persons wrongfully fired from their jobs or excluded from school, for California’s over-taxed Medi-Cal system and the health of the state’s low-income population, and for future research regarding the transmission, prevention and treatment of AIDS. The public health benefits of Proposition 64 are nonexistent, while the public health liabilities are many. In particular, Proposition 64 would waste state funds on ineffective, coercive
    intervention programs and thereby divert resources from the only known effective measure to reduce AIDS transmission: massive public health education. For these reasons, we have concluded that there are no public health justifications for, and many public health arguments against, the measures called for
    by Proposition 64, the LaRouche AIDS Initiative.

    This vaccination campaign has truly jumped the shark.

    You stated that “all Americans should get vaccinated. It is a civic duty, and it is essential that they do so a quickly as possible. “.

    Vaccination, however, has become a tool of oppression, not a tool for managing risk.

    In the absence of a recommendation by a physician following an examination, getting vaccinated is unethical, for it would constitute formal cooperation with evil.

  3. Judges, in the past, “sentenced” incalcitrant juvenile delinquents by offering a choice between jail time or military service. For a few, it did turn their lives for the better. However, for more than a few their delinquency continued to be incalcitrant, it decimated unit cohesion, and they were generally pains in the ass, to deal with. The same can be said for the “sentencing” of drug abusers to rehabilitation, which is rarely long-lasting.

    • In “The Sand Pebbles” Steve McQueen as Jake Holman explains to Candice Bergen’s Shirley Eckert how he came to be there, “They gave me three choices: Army, Navy, reform school.” She asks why he picked the Navy and he says there wasn’t much water in Utah, i.e. it was his chance to get away from there. He turns out to be rebellious, unsuited to military life, and ultimately a mutineer and deserter who only avoids the consequences because he is shot dead.

  4. 1. This isn’t hard. Cuomo has nothing more he can offer Joe, so Joe stopped taking his calls. That’s Realpolitik 101. I think I can safely say there will be no place in his administration for Cuomo, former Secretary of HUD. Anyone who bought into the belief that Biden was this kind, loyal, and basically trustworthy grandfather-to-the-nation hasn’t been paying attention the last four decades, same as anyone who thought Hillary would have made a good president wasn’t paying attention from 1992 onward. Friends? Ordinary folks have friends. Politicians, like nations, have interests. Let’s also not kid ourselves here, most of us probably want to put as much distance as we can between ourselves and friends whose problems might become our problems. Smile and the world smiles with you, weep and you weep alone, right? Succeed and everyone wants a piece of your success, fail and no one wants to know you. I have zero sympathy for Cuomo. He was a privileged son of privilege who not only acted himself like all the pussy within his reach was his for the taking, but who created a culture of bullying and tyranny in the government of one of the most important states in the union. It’s going to be a while before they eliminate that. Actually, Eliot “I’m a fucking steamroller and I’ll roll right over you” Spitzer started that culture, but Cuomo made it a way of life. While NY is at it, put some damn term limits in place, already.

    2. This is classic seizing on a minor point to avoid addressing the major point. Yes, maybe the original writer shouldn’t have opened the door to that, but it’s still ducking the argument.

    3. Color me unsurprised. Of course the left is going to defend Biden to the last, he’s their president. His is a lousy hill to die on and he really doesn’t deserve to be defended, however, the left is for the left before country, national interest, or anything else, because they can’t accept being wrong.

    4. I think you’re going to hear that argument a LOT more. Total control of our bodies has always been a crock. You can’t legally inject certain substances, except in Oregon, but that’s beside the point. You can’t legally attempt suicide. The government can take our bodies, put them in uniform, hand them guns, and send us off to war. That said, requiring shots as a condition of certain remedies is not a good precedent to set, and will probably eventually end up at SCOTUS.

  5. P.S. Would it be considered in bad taste if I said I was enjoying seeing Joe Biden’s feckless policy in Afghanistan blow up in his face? 😀 Honk! Honk! Wocka! Wocka!

  6. 1. Biden’s “Hail fellow well met” routine is unraveling in the public spotlight. I have not thought Biden trustworthy since his plagiarism scandal back in 1987, especially since he has proven over and over again he isn’t worthy of trust.

    So learning that “good friend” means something entirely different to him is not only unsurprising, it’s totally in character.

    2. Critics of the label are obligated, though, to deal with the reasons for making that claim, and should not be allowed to get away with “How dare you insult the victims of genocide by comparing what befell them to electing Joe Biden!”

    Indeed. Unfortunately, the Left knows that appeals to emotion work. To be fair, the Right is just as guilty of using them when they are convenient (abortion politics and the “death tax” are just two quick and easy examples), but the Left has elevated appeals to emotion to the default argument. As you say, they shouldn’t be allowed to get away with it.

    3. The Democrat-supporting media has exhausted their criticism of Joe Biden (required to prevent reducing their credibility to triple-digit negative numbers), so now expect the hard news to begin less hostile coverage and their opinion pages in the to gaslight the hell out of their readers with rationalizations 3A, 13A, 19A combined with what should be on the list, “there were no good options”, 19B, 23, 32, 37, 38, 40A, 46, 49, 50, 52, and 64. It’s a tried and true technique, so nobody should find it surprising.

    4. “It’s actually doing the defendant a favor because it’s keeping them safe and it’s doing the community a favor by making sure this person’s less likely to transmit the virus,” Green added.

    I wonder what his argument will be if, perchance, one of the defendants dies from complications arising from the vaccine? Rare, I know, but certainly not unknown.

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