Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 12/30/21: Ethics All The Way!

That Barbra Streisand—what a racist.

1. Incident at the Tower of London. Some idiot tourist parents let their kid run into the path of marching guards at the Tower. The guards knocked the boy down but deftly avoided stomping him…

…but a controversy erupted on social media with the usual “Think of the children!” hysterics claiming that the guards should have broken formation to go around the boy. Maybe stop, pick him up, and deliver him safely to his parents. Buy him an ice cream while they were at it. Tell him a story.

Let’s have a kid run in the way of a firefighter trying to put out a fire and see what happens. The guards were doing their jobs, and if the precedent were established that they had to stop for irresponsible tourists and their kids, it would become a game, like people making faces at the guards at Buckingham Palace. The parents in this case should be prosecuted, and if there isn’t a law that allows that, there needs to be.

I’m not going to mention that the child wasn’t hurt, because that’s moral luck; he easily could have been. If he had been hurt, the guards would have been blameless.

Why does everything make me think of Kim Potter lately? [Pointer: Steve O-in-NJ]

2. Breaking! Dispatch from the Great Stupid! Washington state lawmakers have introduced a bill to reduce penalties for drive-by shootings. A disproportional number of blacks engage in this cool maneuver, see, so the bill is necessary to promote racial equity. Disparate impact, you know.  

The bill was introduced by state Representatives Tarra Simmons and David Hackney (guess their party affiliation) and would eliminate drive-by shootings as the basis for elevating a first-degree murder charge to aggravated murder in the first degree, which carries a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment.  Right now, drive-by shootings are among several aggravating factors in murder charges, like the murder of police officers, murders committed by inmates while they are behind bars, and murder-for-hire. I presume those are next up for leniency, since all but the last affects black killers more than whites.

I bet the lawmakers who came up with those “enhancements” in the 90s liked to sing “Jingle Bells.”

Rep. Simmons explained that “it’s clear that it was targeted at gangs that were predominantly young and black,” and therefore, “I believe in a society that believes in the power of redemption. Murder is murder no matter where the bullet comes from but locking young people up and throwing away the key is not the answer.”

After all, the gang members only drove along side a vehicle and blew someone away. Deliver them safely to their parents. Buy them ice cream. Tell them a story!

3. Here is how far the news media will go to cover for the Biden Administration: the article is headlined, “The supply-chain disaster is actually good news — for these 3 reasons.” We have heard similar arguments from White House paid liar Jen Psaki, as with her claim that rising gas prices are a good thing because they will force the public to buy more electric cars.

I can’t believe I have to write this. The fact that a miserable policy botch or other catastrophe may have unanticipated beneficial results later does not make them “good.” The attack on Pearl Harbor brought the U.S. into the war, but the attack wasn’t “good news.” The Titanic’s sinking caused massive changes in class discrimination and maritime safety, but it wasn’t good. The Holocaust resulted in a Jewish state, but it wasn’t good.

4. Oh, come ON. The conservative media is currently obsessed with the fact that current “Jeopardy!” champ Amy Schneider is being credited with having earned more money than any female competitor in the show’s history, but Schneider is a transgender woman who was originally born male. This is when making legitimate and material distinctions cross into persecution. It isn’t as if being a former biological male confers any advantage in “Jeopardy!” Schneider has undergone treatment to become a woman, she lives as a woman, and there is no reason in the world not to treat her as one, except bigotry, pettiness and plain meanness.

Glenn Beck’s “The Blaze” sneers, “Schneider apparently had no qualms laying claim to the women’s record, replying, ‘Thanks so much, I’m honored to be in your company, and I look forward to some day watching the woman who beats us both!'”

Why should she have “qualms”? She regards herself as female, has, presumably, sufficient physical markers to qualify legally as a female, won a lot of money, fair and square. This is not analogous to Lia Thomas using the advantage of going through puberty as a male to trounce female swimmers. The vibe given off by too many conservative commentators is that they won’t be satisfied until all transsexuals are categorized as “freaks.”

16 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 12/30/21: Ethics All The Way!

  1. After all, the gang members only drove along side a vehicle and blew someone away. Deliver them safely to their parents. Buy them ice cream. Tell them a story!

    The same party that calls for “common sense”, “sensible” gun legislation also supports letting violent criminals go unpunished.

    Their problem is not the thug who mugs people on the street, nor the gangbanger who guns down a bunch of kids in front a school.

    Their problem is with the young Black man who carries an unregistered handgun because he has to work in a high-crime neighborhood late at night to support his family, and who is unable to register his handgun because the police deny that having work in a high-crime neighborhood late at night to support his family constitutes “good cause”.

  2. 2 legitimately breaks my mind. Every time I have this discussion, whether it be CRT or racial disparities in justice, or whatever, I make effort to differentiate violent from non-violent crime, because, to quote myself from last June (on my Substack):

    “But to take another extreme and obvious example: Black men do disproportionately commit violent crime. There are reasons for that outside the pure lens of race, I tend to think that it’s mostly attributable to poverty, but they do. This isn’t a result of biases on the parts of participants… We aren’t talking about situations like drug use, where officers have a certain amount of discretion (real or assumed) in enforcement. A certain amount of murders happen, in instances where the perpetrator is known, the perpetrator is disproportionately black. And as a result of that: Black men are disproportionately in jail for murder.

    Critical Race Theory would ask us to look at that through a racial lens and assume that because there was a racially disproportionate outcome, laws and systems surrounding the enforcement of murder laws are probably racist, and we should look at changing them to correct for racial biases. Both opponents and proponents of critical race theory would say that’s ridiculous, but for different reasons. Opponents would say that’s ridiculous, and we need laws against murder. Proponents would probably say the same (but not all), and the ones that did would probably also say that’s not what critical race theory would require. This is where things get a little bit shapey. See, CRT absolutely would look at murder incarceration statistics like I’ve laid out, but reasonable CRT proponents would quickly move on because while CRT biases the user towards assuming a racial bias, that’s not a suicide pact, and whether murder laws are racist or not, they probably need to exist.”

    And that’s exactly right… Is murder bad, or isn’t it? Is a drive by shooting an aggravated murder in the first degree, or isn’t it? It makes absolutely no sense to lower the punishment for *literal* murder because the murderers happen to be disproportionately from the same racial group. And yet, here we are.

  3. #1: Royal guards don’t even break formation for one of their own, & have a protocol for “fainting to attention”

    #4: My only question is why is there even a separate category for an achievement where gender isn’t a relevant factor in success?

  4. 4. So tell me, why is there a woman’s category for money earnings on Jeopardy anyway? I always understood women to be the intellectual equal of men, and I have seen nothing in my life to demonstrate otherwise. Women have been almost everything there is to be — leaders of countries, generals, genius-level scientists, philosophers, excellent lawyers, judges, astronauts, fighter pilots, and just about everything else (save perhaps president of the USA — yet).

    So why, on a show considered to value mental acuity, would there be a category for “best woman?” Bizarre. Are those touting her admitting that men are better than women at trivia, so much so that women must have a special category like in athletics where they are genetically handicapped compared to men?

    If I were inclined to make a big deal out of this, I’d ask those questions — why is “best woman” even a thing, never mind the whole transgender part? Whenever I see something like “first woman” or “best woman,” what it says to me is they need special recognition because they are unable to compete directly with men. I can’t imagine that’s true in something like jeopardy.

    I think this was little more than a trap to get conservatives to act stupid and show their bias. Evidently, it worked all too well. Sad.

  5. 1) The guards aren’t guarding anything if the area they are “guarding” has been permitted for several decades now to be overrun with tourists (as the video proves). They are just another feature of the ceremony for tourists to gawk at. This is no indictment on the guards NOR a pass for tourists to get in the way of a performance either. These guards *are* performers along with their guard status.

    That being said, the guard didn’t command “Make Way” until he was one step from being on top of the child. Infraction against the guard. That the guard didn’t break ranks is an infraction on the system that permitted the child to be in the way AND on guard. This is an easy ethics call. The guard should have moved and been chewed out by his sergeant later while the over all leadership determined a way to avoid these conflicts.

    The parents should be disciplined of course for interfering with a well known performance.

    No one is “right” in this episode or forgiven by any ethical calculation.

    • I think I like your analysis better than mine, except that it’s a lot to expect from a soldier with just a few seconds to react. He would argue that he managed to thread the needle: he didn’t break ranks, and he managed to avoid harming the kid. It would be hard to rebut that; I doubt “moral luck” is in the manuals.

  6. 3) Watching the MSM go a full 180 on Covid coverage has been a sight to see these past few days.

    If anyone deserves exile from the United States to some deserted Island, it would be every single prominent bloviator in the MSM.

  7. At most of the palaces the guards have now been moved to places where they are fenced off from tourists/visitors. In fact, they were moved there long before everyone had a cell phone that took pictures, just because the tourists insisted on pestering them. I’m not talking about the relatively benign types who want to photograph them or family standing near them. I’m not even talking about dumb but harmless antics like in the movie Patriot Games, where cute kid Sally Ryan (played by Thora Birch, then age 8-9, although the character was only supposed to be 4ish in the book) bats her eyes and then does a silly dance step in front of one of the guards, who remains impassive.

    I’m talking deliberate disrespect like throwing stuff at the guards (there’s actually a video of a Hasidic woman (significant to me because I usually think of Hasidic people as being more, not less, respectful than normal, but most Hasidim I know are fellow lawyers) throwing a glove at one of the Tower guards, after which one of the Beefeaters retrieves it and sets her straight on a few things), like berating them (which I personally witnessed in 2002, when an activist type tried to give one of the St. James’ Palace guards an earful about Iraq, then fled when the guardsman decided he’d heard enough, came to attention and stamped his boot), like crowding them (which I also personally witnessed in 2014 when a crowd of Japanese tourists insisted on getting way too close to one of the Life Guards, resulting in him raising his sword and barking “Stand back from the Horse Guards!”).

    Look here folks, the soldiers (and occasionally Royal Marines, airmen and (only just recently) sailors) who mount guard at the various palaces, at Whitehall, sometimes at Edinburgh Castle, aren’t wind-up toys for you to gawk at. They’re fully operational members of the Forces, including a fair amount of combat veterans, serving their nation and putting it all on the line for Queen and country. They’re also protecting some very important people (i.e. the Royal Family) and some very valuable things (i.e. the Crown Jewels). They themselves are also symbolic of their nation and could be targeted (those two guys who march ahead of the rest with large backpacks aren’t carrying first aid supplies or communications equipment, they’re carrying jammers, so no one can set off explosives). They are no joke, any more than the Old Guard who protect the Tomb of the Unknowns or the Secret Service who protect the White House are a joke. They have an important job to do, and it’s not okay to make that job more difficult for a picture, a cheap laugh, or a dare. Never mind the question of this becoming a game to see what tourists can get away with, I can tell you that kid was in no small danger interfering with a patrol. I think we have a few LEOs here, although I don’t know if there are any who have worked site or VIP security. When your job is to keep someone, or something secure you don’t let yourself be distracted or diverted and you don’t let it be known that you can be distracted or diverted. Creating a diversion is one of the oldest tricks in the book, to get the guards to take their eyes off whoever or whatever they are guarding. Sometimes all it takes is a few seconds for something to go really, really wrong – someone to set off an explosion, fire a shot, grab someone or something, and BOOK. Children make for pretty good diversions, especially if they can be made to look like they’re just being stupid or just being impulsive, which is what children do. What makes you think that an organization like the IRA, that was known to use children to deliver messages while holding their mothers at gunpoint, wouldn’t hesitate to use them as diversions for whatever while doing the same? The UK leadership, civilian and military, know that’s possible, and that’s why the standing orders are for the guards to march right over anyone who tries to get in their way.

    It’s my understanding that the guardsman did return to make certain no injury had occurred and even took pictures with the knocked down boy. Frankly, that’s more than the kid and his parents deserved. I don’t know about prosecution, that’s probably a reach. However, a stern talking to about parenting and about how serious security matters are and a ban from certain properties for some period of time would not go amiss.

    • Steve,
      My only experience in working close protection details is protecting a few judges and other judicial officials who had been threatened and were assigned protective escorts -in vehicles and on foot- for a few weeks or until the threatener was apprehended, but the training is essentially the same (we were trained by retired Secret Service and U.S. Marshals), and your observations are valid.

  8. 4.) I wouldn’t be at all surprised if being born male confers an advantage in “Jeopardy!” (I’m not familiar with the game, other than answers have to be phrased as questions for some reason). 9 of the top 10 earners have been born male. From the Jordan Peterson videos I’ve watched that touch on the topic of differences between males and females, it seems plausible to me that the small population of people who have the characteristics to excel in the game (obsession with memorising disparate facts?) would be dominated by males.

    • I’d tend to describe it as an interest more men than women gravitate to: it’s like the conversation in “City Slickers” where the one woman at the dude ranch marvels at how men memorize baseball stats. But the “64,000 Question” Champ whose category was baseball was woman: Dr. Joyce Brothers. Women are just as capable of cramming facts—it’s just that not as many enjoy doing it. In my experience, women aren’t as fond of games generally, but those who are can compete with and defeat men.

  9. 0) Ugh, that is certainly a forgettable version of Jingle Bells.

    3) The fact that they refer to it as a ‘disaster’ should be a clue that it isn’t actually a good thing to have happened.

    4) This is totally different from the UPenn swimmer. No one should care if Jeopardy contestants are men, women, Eskimos, or transgender male or female. I would suspect (without evidence) that someone floated the claim that she’s a transgender woman and has the highest winnings of any women simply to provoke the reaction that they got. I’ve not seen the coverage, but it sounds like it has to be fairly bigoted. Conservative commentators owe their audiences better.

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