Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/10/21: In The Texas Abortion Law Dispute, Dropping Shoes…[Updated!]

dropping shoes

1. This shoe we knew was dropping soon...U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman granted a temporary restraining order this week against the controversial Texas law that prohibits conducting abortions after a fetal heartbeat has been detected. It’s a really, really bad opinion, full of wokisms, and unprofessional appeals to emotion, and it is now blocked by a temporary stay by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Pittman had written that “this Court will not sanction one more day of this offensive deprivation of such an important right.” His own opinion is pretty offensive on its own, avoiding the use of the term “women” and including nary a hint that another right, maybe even a superior one, might be at issue here.

The Texas law is likely to be found unconstitutional, maybe in more ways than one, but the TRO followed by a higher court stay has become a routine sequence. Another predictable shoe: a misleading and intellectually dishonest reaction from pro-abortion activists. The Center for Reproductive Rights’ president and CEO Nancy Northup, for example, said in a statement,

It’s unconscionable that the Fifth Circuit stayed such a well-reasoned decision that allowed constitutionally protected services to return in Texas. Patients are being thrown back into a state of chaos and fear, and this cruel law is falling hardest on those who already face discriminatory obstacles in health care, especially Black, Indigenous, and other people of color, undocumented immigrants, young people, those struggling to make ends meet, and those in rural areas. The courts have an obligation to block laws that violate fundamental rights.”

Well reasoned? I bet she didn’t read past the order itself. Of course, current abortion laws fall hardest on the most helpless and innocent of victims, the unborn, but never mind: Nancy doesn’t acknowledge their humanity. She also feels it necessary to play every victim card in the deck (other than the dead baby card, of course), as if it matters in constitutional terms whose rights are being violated, and as if violations of Left-anointed groups’ rights are more important than violations of others. All citizens have the same rights, and the Constitution guarantees equal rights under the law.

2. When ethics alarms don’t ring…and historical literacy is dead: In Germany, yellow badges (okay, they are technically buttons, but still…) signify that the wearer has been vaccinated. Colorful!

3. The tit-for-tat shoe drops! Project Veritas’s James O’Keefe is widely derided in the mainstream media (and on Ethics Alarms) as an unethical liar who preys on the admirable human tendency to trust people to be who they say they are. Of course, what most of O’Keefe’s critics really hate about him is that he uses deception to uncover hypocrisy and vile motives at the highest reaches of Progressiveland, like in ACORN, PBS, Planned Parenthood, and elsewhere. Lauren Windsor, though, is different, a liberal activist who poses as a Republican at party gatherings and tries to coax prominent conservatives into revealing things that she later will publicize to embarrass them. She says her stings are justified by Republican efforts to spread disinformation about the election and to weaken the nation’s democratic underpinnings. “Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures,” she insisted in an interview, saying that assuming a false identity can produce a truer record of a politician’s views. “Acting like you’re one of them — you’re going to elicit different answers than if you have a recorder in somebody’s face and they know you’re a journalist.”

In other words, the ends justify the means, “they have it coming,” “tit for tat,” and another rationalization for unethical conduct, #28. The Revolutionary’s Excuse: “These are not ordinary times.”

She is exactly the same as O’Keefe, exactly as unethical, exactly as inexcusable, and like him, erodes societal trust.

4. Want to know why we have an out-of-control National Debt? Why we shouldn’t trust the government to spend trillions of dollars? Here’s one reason…Hannibal Ware, the Small Business Administration’s inspector general, wrote in a report released last week that an emergency relief program run by the Small Business Administration in the early days of the pandemic had such poor fraud protections that it mistakenly gave out nearly $4.5 billion to self-employed people who applied based on wildly implausible claims, like, say, having a million employees. The $20 billion program, dubbed the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Advance, offered small businesses immediate grants of up to $10,000 as a response to hardship in the wake of the shutdown. The SBA created no system to catch applications with “flawed or illogical information.” Wow! Why didn’t we think of that? Ware states that the agency could have spotted obviously bogus applications by taking easy and obvious measures to prevent fraud.

5. Here’s news! A social media platform is promoting unethical behavior, and it isn’t Twitter or Facebook! Of course, this would be impossible if parents and schools bothered to inculcate basic ethical values in our kids, but hey, I’m just a delusional Boomer ethicist.

On Sept. 1, a TikTok user shared a video revealing a box of disposable masks in his backpack. He added a hashtag, “absolutely devious lick,’ and it got 239,000 views. The same week, another TikTok video was posted showing swiped hand sanitizer, with the same hashtag. This time, there were 7.2 million views. within two weeks, TikTok had hosted close to 94,200 similar videos under #deviouslicks, or #diabolicallicks. The hashtag also encouraged more serious vandalism, with students taking ceiling tiles, hand-railings, toilets and bathroom stalls.

The “experts” are making excuses for the thieves. Amanda Brennan, the senior director of trends for the digital marketing agency XX Artists, blames the pandemic. “It makes sense to see kids stealing things because it feels like a power play,” Brennan said. “You feel powerful over these systems that you may not have felt as if you had a lot of control over.” Brendan Gahan, a partner and chief social officer for the digital agency Mekanism, theorizes that #deviouslicks are akin to senior pranks before the internet age and previous internet fads — like “gallon smashing” (people recording themselves destroying milk cartons in grocery stores). “It’s all teen rebellion, but it’s just on a different medium,” he says. “There’s something innately attractive about conflict, and it being rebellious. TikTok allows people to share, and display, that behavior, on a scale that’s not really been available before.”

Oh. On the other hand, if teens have had even rudimentary ethics alarms installed, and they should be, they would never consider doing such things…not even once, not on a dare. Never.

22 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/10/21: In The Texas Abortion Law Dispute, Dropping Shoes…[Updated!]

  1. Oh. On the other hand, if teens have had even rudimentary ethics alarms installed, and they should be, they would never consider doing such things…not even once, not on a dare. Never.

    If it weren’t in human nature to consider doing the wrong thing then ethics wouldn’t be necessary. How many thoughts have you had this week about shirking a responsibility, hitting someone who made you angry, taking what you didn’t earn and don’t deserve, snapping at a loved one because you’re tired and frustrated, calling down a flock of ravens to peck out the eyes of your enemies, or eating the last cookie without offering to split it with someone else?

    • How many thoughts have you had this week about shirking a responsibility, hitting someone who made you angry, taking what you didn’t earn and don’t deserve, snapping at a loved one because you’re tired and frustrated, calling down a flock of ravens to peck out the eyes of your enemies, or eating the last cookie without offering to split it with someone else?

      How is that relevant? THINKING about doing unethical things isn’t unethica; DOING them is. Boasting about doing them by posting them is. I never considered swiping school property in my life, not once, and I regard that as normal.

    • “…they would never consider doing such things…”

      It’s a figure of speech, and one I dislike for this exact reason. I prefer to speak clearly and literally when I’m approving or disapproving of something. It’s good for people to be capable of considering everything. I’d rather have someone consider an option and reject it on ethical grounds than have them overlook the option out of habit, and then lack the ethical fiber to reject it when desperation does lead them to consider it. As Mark Twain pointed out in The Man Who Corrupted Hadleyburg, “the weakest of all weak things is a virtue which has not been tested in the fire.”

      • EC
        There are many things I wouldn’t consider. None of us consider every option because some options are overwhelmingly wrong or expensive that taking any time to evaluate that option makes no economic sense. Fir example when I am considering my nutritional needs I rule out Similac (infant formula) or other formulas packaged for seniors such as Ensure.
        Certain acts are considered so extreme they do not warrant any consideration because the costs are too great. Another example is hitting a woman. I understand that people should consider all reasonable options before a knee jerk reaction but to say that someone uttering “I wouldn’t consider doing X” is a bad figure of speech because it does not satisfy a literal examination is in my opinion incorrect because no one considers ever option due to transaction costs. Those who do try, typically find themselves paralyzed by analysis.

  2. When I was in high school one of the senior class pranks was to release a bunch of crickets into the lunch room. Probably not ethical, but it was extremely funny. Stealing stuff is neither funny nor ethical. The crickets were purchased from a bait shop, so at least they paid for them.

    I’ve been reading that the latest #deviouslicks stunt is to randomly punch a teacher in the face. That escalated quickly.

  3. #2. When I was in grad school, one of my friends had an assignment in one of his courses to direct an act of a Shakespeare play. He decided to do Act I of The Merchant of Venice, and convinced me to play Shylock. We did it in modern dress; I was in a dark suit… and a yellow tie. I remember that we talked a lot about my costume; neither of us remember whose idea that tie was, but it certainly met with approval from both sides.
    Needless to say, neither he nor I were consulted about the German vaccination badge.

  4. 5. The relevant motivation here is boldness: the desire to have a chaotic influence, to break limitations. I appreciate that people want to feel they have the ability to violate rules rather than conforming obediently, but they should earn that freedom by doing constructive and creative pranks rather than creating petty, pointless inconveniences. If you’re going to vandalize something, at least make it a work of art, or some sort of meaningful statement. Breaking things for the sake of breaking them is just stupid.

  5. The courts have an obligation to block laws that violate fundamental rights.”

    There are also jurisdictional issues, as well as if the Court can prescribe the remedy it did. This Court took the extraordinary step of enjoining state court jusdges from hearing suits arising from S.B. 8. In its opinion, it did not cite a single Supreme Court nor Fifth Circuit opinion upholding an injunction against a state court judge from hearing certain type(s) of cases.

    Ordinarily, federal oversight of state courts involved judging appeals arising from the judgments and orders of state courts, which has been the case since at least Martin v. Hunter’s Lessee, 14 U.S. (1 Wheat.) 304 (1816).

    In some circumstances, a federal court can remove an existing case from a state court, which is already considered an extraordinary remedy.

    The Supreme Court frowns upon enjoining state courts from ever hearing cases in the first instance.

    The difference between the power to enjoin an individual from doing certain things and the power to enjoin courts from proceeding in their own way to exercise jurisdiction is plain, and no power to do the latter exists because of a power to do the former.

    Ex Parte Young, 209 U.S. 123, 163 (1908)

  6. … The SBA created no system to catch applications with “flawed or illogical information.” Wow! Why didn’t we think of that? Ware states that the agency could have spotted obviously bogus applications by taking easy and obvious measures to prevent fraud.

    Actually, I can think of sound reasons why they shouldn’t have done those things and how doing them could have had adverse, unintended consequences. Short answer: it violates the business precept “never make an engineering decision for accounting reasons” (there are analogues in other legs of business activities).

    Long answer: by way of illustration, consider what the British Civil Service learned from handling war contracts during the First World War and applied during the Second World War. The first approach prioritised getting the war materiel rapidly and in large amounts, and left the details to be sorted out later. Sadly, quality suffered, as did finances because of the losses that went to profiteers. Came the armistice, and the powers that be ruined those suppliers like Tommy Sopwith who had not been ripping them off by cutting their contracts without notice and without covering their losses for working capital and work in progress, that those suppliers had advanced out of their own resources. So the profiteers won out and the likes of Sopwith’s factories went bankrupt. By the time of the run up to the Second World War, the public knew of what profiteers could do and so the British Civil Service prioritised getting value for money. But that meant huge compliance burdens with consequential delays, and also huge up front outlays on plant and working capital for all the suppliers. Some, like Tommy Sopwith, coped by setting up at arms length in the form of the Hawker firm, but some simply declined to tender (Nevil Shute records some of this problem area coming up at Airspeed in his autobiography). So the public got better value for money – at the cost of less actual value, more slowly. And the public never saw what they weren’t getting, as the opportunity costs of non-participants weren’t visible. (Things like this gave rise to the precept in the short answer above.)

    Moral: are you after effectiveness (results) or efficiency (ratio of results to costs of inputs)? If you don’t know where you want to go it doesn’t matter if you don’t know how to get there. The SBA’s approach makes quite some sense as a prompt emergency response with imperfect information in the early stages of a developing situation, given that effectiveness is the priority. Hindsight doesn’t justify criticism, though not properly using the time bought could – but that’s a criticism of later work, not of the first emergency response.

    By the way, what’s the problem with Germans using yellow badges now? It’s not as though there are many colours available that avoid historical associations with such things as Nazi use for undesirables (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nazi_concentration_camp_badge).

  7. #2. I worked for a Jewish Community Center for a number of years. One year, the winter class catalog had an interior front page that was done in colors of pink, blue, and yellow. The cover of the catalog was die cut with various shapes; one of which was a star. When you closed the cover, guess which color the star landed on? Yeah.

    It went over like a fart in synagogue.

  8. (2) Germany? What about English Colleges, the Pittsburgh Steelers, and the US military (JROTC program).

    I wonder if John Bennett will get any apologies. Probably not.

    Of course, this also relates to #1, which really is the state using private citizens to perform actions that are illegal for the government. How much of this have we seen? The California government gives Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube lists of people it wants censored and the ‘private businesses’ do the censoring, for example. I actually support this Texas law for that very reason. Is the court going to say the state can’t use private businesses and individuals to restrict a Constitutional Right (abortion), but can use private businesses to restrict written Constitutional Rights (the First Amendment and Second Amendment)? Will the courts rule that citizens can’t put pressure on abortion providers while state governments can forbid banks from providing financial services to gun stores or people who vote Republican? I wouldn’t put it past them, but there comes a point where people are going to lose what little respect they have left for these rigged systems. I want this Texas law to be the case that makes all of the above impermissible.

    As an added comment, I like the fact that the pistol in the video is worn. I laugh when I see politicians posturing and they use brand new shiny guns because they don’t actually carry or own firearms themselves. I don’t know if he actually carries this or was just smart enough not to use a new one. If he is only posturing, at least he is putting some thought into it. It would show minimal reasoning skills.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.