Final Open Forum Of 2021! Oh What Fun!

Make it a good one.

In case you missed it, an esteemed Ethics Alarms commenter caught a major error here, allowing me to fix it. Phlinn alerted me that the EA post about the Guardian cutting off a “poll” because it was favoring “cancelled” author J.K. Rowling for her opposition to tans-activist cant was “fake news,” as indeed it was. After his analysis proved correct, I retracted the post, and also put up a separate announcement of the retraction with the link.

Phlinn is an Ethics Hero, and also allowed Ethics Alarms to retrieve a small shred or respectability out of this mess: none of the other sites and news sources that reported the mistaken version of the Guardian “poll” has corrected the misinformation or retracted their stories. This is a sterling example of how the commentariat here is a full partner in making this ethics blog what it is.

27 thoughts on “Final Open Forum Of 2021! Oh What Fun!

    • Thanks. It’s a structural problem: with occasional exceptions, like my Listerine post or the film ethics guides, this isn’t a primary news source, and if I had to meticulously check every foundation story I wouldn’t have time to write the blog—I don’t have time as it is. But it still is embarrassing for an ethics site to circulate false information.

      • But it still is embarrassing for an ethics site to circulate false information.

        Yes, that’s true, and there’s no way around it.

        But it is equally praiseworthy to retract and apologize when errors are made. Making a mistake is worthy of self-criticism, but owning and properly apologizing for it is what sets you apart from most others.

  1. I’ve been working on this for a bit. When President Biden ran as the Unity candidate and urged unity in his Inauguration address only to maintain the business as usual divisiveness that has characterized his party’s tactics, I started to wonder if there were anything he could do to change it.

    With permission and forgiveness- for the length and the hubris it took to write this – I wonder what would happen if Biden’s State of the Union address in 2022 went something like this.

    My Fellow Americans,

    The purpose of the State of the Union address is to inform the citizenry of where we stand as a country at the beginning of a new year. In keeping with the spirit of that intent, I’m going to use this time a little differently than you may expect. In my Inaugural Address, I urged the country to come together in a spirit of unity. Since that time, we have become more divided than ever. We have seen hostility between people based on race, gender, religion, class and ethnic origin spike. Our children’s education is at risk as parents battle teachers, teachers battle parents and all battle school administrations. Our law enforcement officers and first responders are at risk more than ever. Families are at war with each other, tearing the basic unit of our society apart. We have lost the ability to give each other the benefit of the doubt, preferring instead to assume the worst of others.

    I’m here to apologize to you on behalf of myself, the Democratic Party and its entire leadership for our part in creating and maintaining this schism.

    For decades, the Democratic Party has contributed to the undermining of our national institutions. We questioned the legitimacy of the elections of George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004 and the election of Donald Trump in 2016, using irresponsible rhetoric that encouraged ignorance of our Constitution and the protections provided in it by the Founding Fathers. Indeed, we have undermined the Founding Fathers themselves, dismissing their incredible gift to us, by characterizing them by the worst decisions they ever made. In doing so, we have fomented disrespect of our way of life, our history, cultural heritage and national achievements among our youth. Democratic officials in county, city and state politics have followed our poor example, refusing to concede elections and destroying local customs and the memory of historical figures alike with iconoclastic fervor.

    We have undermined the legitimacy of the Supreme Court with dangerous hyperbolic statements about the threat to our democracy if a decision doesn’t go the way we want. We used our allies in the news media, the entertainment industry, academia and friendly corporations to mischaracterize high court rulings, spreading ignorance among the population as to how the court is designed to work. We have turned Supreme Court confirmation hearings into circuses, demonizing anyone nominated by our opponents and encouraging our aforementioned allies to engage in relentless character assassinations so that we can protect our pet platform issues.

    We have tried to get around Constitutional protections of Freedom of Speech, Religion, Press and Assembly by putting pressure on private businesses to shut down opposing viewpoints and to punish our political critics while claiming that it’s an acceptable practice so long as it’s not government committing the actual violation. We have irresponsibly inserted ourselves into local law enforcement issues, sometimes demanding outcomes that hinder a defendant’s right to due process and ability to receive a fair trail. We have pressured higher education to destroy the lives of students by virtue of a mere accusation, again mocking the concept of due process.

    In particular, we have disappointed the parents who entrust their children to us for their education. We keep unfit, unqualified teachers in the classroom, give lip service to quality education while pushing out graduating classes of increasingly failing students and spend precious education time indoctrinating students on wedge issues important to us.

    We have encouraged racial enmity by advocating suspicion of law enforcement, endangering all of us with irresponsible demands to defund the police, allow violent protests that destroy property and lives and incentivize lawbreaking by refusing to enforce the laws in existence. We have harmed minority communities with endless social welfare funding that exacerbates the problem of poverty instead of solving it, creating generations of families unable or unwilling to learn how to support themselves. We have engaged in relentless fear-mongering of our opponents to keep the minority vote, painting any alternatives to eternal dependence on government as being motivated by racism while we ourselves have engaged in the soft bigotry of low expectations, trying to convince you that you can never compete fairly with white citizens, can never truly be successful in the Land of Opportunity and are not intelligent enough to do simple things, such as get a government-issue ID.

    Irresponsibly, we contributed to a crisis at our Southern border for political gain by encouraging untold numbers of poverty-stricken people to violate our immigration laws and opposing any legislation designed to resolve the issue.

    We have helped put this country in unsustainable debt that will take generations to pay so that we could toss money at every problem and fund our programs.

    We labeled anyone who questioned the wisdom of these actions as bigots and dangerous extremists.

    These practices were ramped up after the 2016 election. Instead of going high, as our former First Lady asserted, we went as low as we could. We gave no quarter to President Trump and did everything we could, along with our supporters in the various industries I’ve already mentioned, to keep him from doing his job. We made sure he would never be given even the most minor of Presidential honors that have been afforded incoming Presidents traditionally. We approved the most unlikely conspiracy theories regarding his election and nodded in agreement when our allies in the news media published rumors as fact, cited anonymous sources and failed to report accurately any news that favored the administration. Prominent members of our party encouraged public harassment of administration officials with no disciplinary action or even a rebuke in response. Congress made no effort to work with the President at all on any important piece of legislation, to the detriment of our country and its citizens. Every move by our party’s Senators and Congresspersons was done to harm the Trump administration, regardless of the collateral damage done to all of you.

    When the pandemic loomed, we ignored it while we engaged in partisan political theatre intended to damage the President’s re-election chances. Our Speaker of the House violated democratic norms by tearing up the President’s speech on television. Suddenly, as the strong economy began to falter on pandemic fears, we seized on that as a way to pull a victory out of the 2020 election. We insisted on stringent lockdowns, encouraged abuses of power by state and city officials and undermined every effort by the Trump administration to contain the pandemic within Constitutional parameters. We further pitted family members against each other, already divided along political lines, by vilifying anyone who questioned the effectiveness of such methods.

    We exhibited blatant double standards when it came to what constituted acceptable gatherings, showed our own hypocrisy multiple times as prominent members of our party violated their own restrictions and excused confusing, contradictory messaging about the virus coming from government agencies and the scientific/medical communities. We did our best to destroy the morale of the country before the election. Worst of all, we discouraged confidence in the vaccine so that President Trump would not get any credit for its remarkably rapid development only to change course after the election results were in.

    Speaking of the election, we continued the undermining of our election process by demanding the use of unsecure paper ballots, dismissed any concerns about tampering and used our allies to propagandize for us again, counting on them to bury stories that helped the administration or hurt us. We ignored the bizarre hours-long cessation of ballot counting in swing states that ultimately turned in our favor. We demanded that the results of this election be accepted without question or pause, not hesitating to again label concerns as dangerous extremism, knowing full well how we would have responded had the election gone the other way under the same circumstances.

    And we denied that we did any of those things.

    We were hypocrites.

    Since I have taken office, we have continued these same practices. We laid down the law on the frustrated, but misguided, people who forced their way into the Capitol on January 6. We have encouraged repeated misrepresentations of that event. We have used our corporate allies to shut down opposing political speech and to try to force vaccine compliance. In our country’s darkest days, it has been the job of the country’s leader to give hope. Instead, I have lectured you ceaselessly and allowed excuses to be made for my failure.

    I want to take time now to apologize specifically:

    To President Trump. You deserved a chance. We didn’t give that to you. The political climate today exists because we could not accept that we lost. We have no right to complain about 2020 election concerns after spending four years questioning your victory. No right to complain about incivility toward me when we practiced it toward you relentlessly.

    To Betsy DeVos, Sarah Sanders and other members of the Trump administration who were prevented from doing their jobs or even enjoying a private dinner out because of harassment encouraged by the Democratic Party. You deserved the same consideration that I would want for my own officials.

    To Trump administration associates and colleagues who were targeted by the DOJ, whose employers were pressured, who faced constant threats for their association with President Trump. We made a mockery of the right of Freedom of Association.

    To Amy Coney Barrett, Neil Gorsuch and, especially, Brett Kavanaugh. You were badly treated because of who nominated you. We went as low as we could go and that’s saying something. You deserved fair hearings and didn’t get them.

    To Republicans. You have been unfairly maligned as racists, sexists, homophobes, xenophobes and every other unpleasant characterization. We should have listened to your opinions with respect, even if we disagreed with them. Congressman Steve Scalise and other Republicans with him on the day a gunman opened fire on them were endangered by the same kind of rhetoric we have routinely maintained poses a danger to others. We have set a poor example for our supporters.

    To Law Enforcement officials nationwide, including our Border and Customs agents. We have made your jobs impossible by openly siding with lawbreakers and risked your lives with our damaging grandstanding. You deserved our support and we threw you under the bus.

    To parents who have every right to know what their children are learning and to express their concerns about it. No one should ever be made to feel like an enemy for speaking out at a School Board meeting. Your participation in your children’s education is essential.

    To businesses and property owners, large and small. We facilitated the destroying of our economy for political gain. We placed the unreasonable demand of expecting you to enforce local and federal mandates while struggling to stay afloat financially. You should never have been made responsible for policing the public.

    To our minority communities. Our cynical pandering to you for decades to prop up our voter base has caused significant harm to you and helped cause the racial animus we are seeing now. You have the right to think for yourselves and make choices as individuals, not groups, even if one of those choices is not voting for me.

    To religious believers. We have shown open hostility to those of faith on a regular basis and practiced double standards in how various groups of believers are treated. You deserve to be treated equally and fairly.

    To the American people. You deserved better. You didn’t get it. You have the right to expect honesty, fairness, impartiality and transparency from your elected officials who should be working hard for you, not on their campaigns or personal agendas. I intend to change things for the better starting today.

    There is a light at the end of the tunnel. We will get through this. I personally believe that every American should be vaccinated. I do understand, however, that there is a great deal of mistrust here that we have been responsible for creating. I hope that, in the coming months, we can gain your trust by reaching out in partnership with our political opponents and working together to repair the damage to our country. It will be difficult and we won’t always make the right decisions. I have confidence that the people of this country can overcome all the obstacles in our path if we join hands and tackle them together.

    We are Americans. This is who we are and what we do.

    God bless you. And God bless America.

    • Will Dim Slow Joe be making this speech before or after the monkeys fly out of his butt?
      And even if he did, who would believe him? The Dems have shredded every shred of trust and presumption of good will which such an address might otherwise deserve. “At this point, what difference does it make?”

      • He’ll do it around the same time that Republicans apologize for their part in creating this mess.

        Wishful thinking, I know. It would just be nice if someone did the ethical thing and admit fault.

    • Tremendous, A.M.

      Mrs. OB received a phone call the other day in her capacity as president of the HOA in which we have a unit. The caller was shocked, shocked I tell you, that a neighbor had placed a “Let’s Go Brandon” placard in her unit’s back window. “It’s facing the golf course where people can SEE it!” she nearly screamed. “This is disrespectful. Isn’t there anything in the CC&Rs prohibiting political signs being posted on the property? [Our past president] is furious!”

      To which Mrs. OB responded, “You mean [the past HOA president] who for years had the bumper sticker on his car that said, ‘Impeach the Moron’? That [past president]?”

    • IF Biden were to own up to everything his party and their lapdog media have done like this it would be a START to repairing the damage that has been done. There would have to be immediate follow up on the things he said by not only him but also by his political allies and their media allies, or else it would be worthless. It would not make me trust them or automatically assume good will on their part, but it might give them a window where I was willing to listen. If the insults, general maliciousness, conniving and partisan law making immediately stopped I might give them the benefit of the doubt and let the democrats work towards earning back my trust that they mean well.

      It’s sort of irrelevant though, because the democrats are never going to admit anything they have done wrong, much less all or most of it. Also, if Biden did acknowledge the wrongdoings of his party it would probably be due to an episode of senility rather than as an act of contrition or self-awareness. Additionally, if he were to do this the entirety of the left would most likely immediately denounce him and carry on attacking everyone they disagree with as an evil miasma of non-humans who they believe should be wiped off the face of the planet in a righteous genocide.

      In my opinion, the anger in the country is being stoked deliberately and the democrats are quite pleased with their handiwork. They have no interest in making people less angry, they want everyone at each other’s throats. I’m not entirely sure that they are not actively trying to start a civil war.

    • Nice try, but I think the speech you’ll get will be more like this:

      My fellow Americans,

      Tonight, this nation stands more united, yet more divided than ever. This nation showed it is still decent at its core when it threw a dangerous demagogue out of office who stood for all the worst of what it was and still is, but tonight we still find ourselves a very long way from the best we can be.

      When 56 men gathered together in a hall in Philadelphia almost two hundred fifty years ago, they wrote that all men are endowed with the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. All of them were white, only one was Catholic, none were Jewish, almost all were well-to-do, most were either landed gentry or lawyers, and 41, just under three quarters, were slaveowners. The man who wrote most of it was not only a slaveowner, but one who kept his dead wife’s half-sister as a de facto concubine. They may have said all men, but they certainly didn’t mean all people in what was to become the United States. They didn’t even mean all men, and they can’t have meant it, since almost three quarters of them owned other people. They meant all white men who owned property, a certain amount of property and that was it. As far as they were concerned, if you were poor, if you were of color, if you were a woman, you didn’t count. For almost 250 years this nation has been living a lie, and it should come as no surprise that when we live a lie, we fall short, no, make that far short, of the best we can be. If you say your goal is the moon, but you never intend to actually get there, then it should come as no surprise you don’t get there.

      What seems to have been forgotten in 250 years is that the most basic right everyone in this nation was supposed to have is the right to life. This means you have the right not to not be killed because you were the wrong color, or worshipped the wrong way, or loved the wrong person. You also have the right not to be killed because someone else decided you were in the wrong place at the wrong time, doing the wrong thing. You also have the right not to be killed because someone whose job it is to protect you decided to misuse his authority, or someone else decided to possess a deadly weapon he did not need, or because someone else decided he was going to bring a deadly virus among his fellow citizens and refuse to be vaccinated.

      Only after that right to life come the rights to liberty and to the pursuit of happiness, because they are meaningless if you are not alive to enjoy them. What is more, neither of those rights is absolute. Your right to swing your fist ends where your neighbor’s nose begins, your right to use whatever substances are legal ends where danger to others begins, and there is no right to insult, offend, or hurt anyone by anyone, at any time, for any reason, but especially for the reason that someone doesn’t like what color someone else is.

      My fellow Americans, we face a cluster of crises right now, that put us in real danger of not only falling short of what we can be, but becoming something we were never meant to be.

      The COVID pandemic is the most immediate, but it is not the biggest. It has only been here for just under two years, and it should be gone soon. We have not just a vaccine but several vaccines that protect against this. We have other cures being worked on. We all have the simple remedies of wearing a mask and practicing social distancing. None of these is a guaranteed immunity, but, when used together, greatly reduce the possibility of catching or spreading the virus. However, just like water means nothing if the horse won’t drink it, masks mean nothing if people won’t wear them, social distancing means nothing if people won’t observe it, and vaccines mean nothing if people won’t take them. If you are refusing to get vaccinated or wear your mask, you are endangering your fellow citizens’ right to life, just as surely if you fired an assault weapon into the street. This has been explained to this nation many times, frankly more times than should be necessary for everyone with a reasonable level of intelligence to understand, comprehend, and implement it. Many have. But many is not all, and until all or at least substantially all comply, we will never be rid of this modern-day plague. So, starting tomorrow and until I deem otherwise, I am going to issue a series of executive orders and the appropriate agencies are going to make appropriate changes to the Code of Federal Regulations. Unless and until you get vaccinated and get a booster shot, and can show proof you have, you will be barred from all Federal property, all public transportation, and anywhere else the Federal government owns or has authority over. You will also be barred from all public indoor spaces, that includes malls, schools, theaters, churches, and most other gathering places. There will be a limited number of exceptions for those individuals whose physicians will attest to their inability to take the vaccine because it will do them more harm than good. Religious objections will no longer be recognized.

      The Federal government may not be able to seize you and vaccinate you on the spot, but hopefully those of you who cling to junk science, superstition, and ridiculous conspiracy theories will get it through your thick skulls that we are serious about this when you can no longer go out to dinner, shop for groceries, go to a movie, attend church, or watch your child graduate or perform. And we are deadly serious. You have been warned, and this is my last warning I am going to issue.

      However, as I said, the pandemic is only the most immediate crisis, and it may be one that ends soon. Another crisis is that of policing. You might think that we aren’t that far from the bicentennial of modern policing in America, which began in 1838 with the establishment of the Boston Police. However, you’d be wrong if you thought that. Policing in America began in 1704 with the first slave patrols, whose job it was to catch slaves who tried to escape to freedom and return them to slavery. For three hundred years law enforcement in this country has been making it its business to make life miserable for the African American community, first by returning them to slavery, second by harassing them if they happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, last by killing them for the wrong reasons or no reason at all. If a white motorist is pulled over for any reason, his biggest fear is that his insurance is going to go up. If a black motorist is pulled over, his biggest fear is that he is going to lose his life.

      At this time, I have directed Attorney General Garland to issue a new, nationwide set of guidelines for policing. Among other things, they will prohibit the use of chokeholds, the pinning of a suspect to the ground, the road pursuit of suspects not suspected of a felony, and the use of certain other techniques deemed dangerous. They will also further restrict the use of force by officers. If you are a police officer, going forward you best think twice before you use force on a young black man, and three times before you discharge your firearm at one. I have also proposed the Floyd-Taylor Act to Congress, which would end the doctrine of qualified immunity, although I’m going to need their help, and I hope I get it. I am also going to be assigning Federal monitors to all 50 state police forces and selected municipal forces to make sure these new guidelines are adhered to. At this point police officers who abuse their authority will be held accountable, the same as anyone else.

      The last of the cluster of crises I am going to talk about tonight dovetails with this, and that is the crisis of white supremacy and racism. That is this nation’s fatal flaw, present from the beginning, when Christopher Columbus and his crew of Spaniards landed in Hispaniola and immediately began to enslave the indigenous people and worse. Inside of fifty years Cabot had landed in North America proper, Cortez had conquered Mexico, Pizarro had demanded the greatest ransom in history for Atahualpa and broken his promise to let him go, and Coronado’s horsemen were ranging the Great Plains trying to find El Dorado. Not much more than fifty years after that the English built Jamestown, and the original people of this continent were doomed. Not even fifteen years after that, the first slaves were brough here from Africa, and you know the rest. Or you might think you know the rest, but historian Howard Zinn said that what we exclude, delete, and pass over is just as important as what we include, highlight, and examine. This nation has gotten the history wrong and been wrong ever since.

      Oh, the days of institutionalized discrimination are over, and the days you’ll see the Confederate battle flag flying from a public building or a traitor’s statue in the public square are almost over. However, it’s not the stars and bars on a piece of cloth or the bronze traitor rising over the public square that we need to concern ourselves with. It’s the stars and bars you can’t see, in the mind of the racist, and the reverence for the traitor in the white supremacist’s heart you need to worry about. To take further action against this crisis, I am directing the Department of Education to mandate a new nationwide anti-racist curriculum. The next generation will grow up knowing this country’s sins full well and determined not to repeat them. If parents oppose this, I have to wonder if they are racists themselves, and need to be looked at. I have also directed that the Department of Justice aggressively pursue hate crime prosecutions, even if they duplicate state charges. Those who hurt others because of their color will be made examples of, and then maybe those hateful idiots will learn to keep their hate to themselves. I have also directed that the Department of Justice launch probes into certain members of this body who have indicated that this nation might be better off dividing state from state, those with these views from those with others. Make no mistake of this, this administration will treat any such talk as inciting insurrection, and any action in support of it as treason. There is no division or divorce in this nation, that was settled in 1865 at Appomattox, when the traitors stacked arms and furled the flag of racism. That fire is cold out, and if you try to relight it, you are going to prison for the rest of your life.

      I will continue to honor our indigenous people’s with a proclamation every second Monday in October while I am in office, but that is all I can do. However, I have also proposed the Federal Holiday Reform Act to Congress. This bill would formally replace the long outdated Columbus Day with Indigenous People’s Day, ensure Juneteenth will always be observed on Juneteenth, and refocus the Thanksgiving holiday as a national day of mourning and apology for what the white race did here. I know some of you in this body who might otherwise vote for it are of Italian descent, and that might give you pause, but you have won your struggle. Your voice matters. It is time to lift up another voice that does not.

      I have also put together a task force, to be headed by Vice President Harris, which will put together a framework for just reparations to those harmed in this nation’s history.

      I’ve also been talking to the leaders of the business community. Just as you have the right not to patronize the baker who will not bake a wedding cake for a loving same-gender couple, private companies have the right to take their business elsewhere when cities or states or legislators take actions whose net effect is to limit the voting rights of their citizens of color, or to limit a woman’s right to choose, or to empower the police to harass or kill young black men, or to enable the spreading of misinformation or hatred, or to put more dangerous weapons in the hands of dangerous individuals. Going forward this administration is going to take steps to reward those states, cities, other governments, and businesses who act responsibly and punish those who act irresponsibly.

      We’re already doing that with the creation of economic assistance only available to those jurisdictions that do away with the death penalty, a cruel and racist relic of a cruel and racist past. The next step is going to be publicly flagging those jurisdictions acting irresponsibly and economically encouraging major league sports, the entertainment industry, large business concerns, banks, and other powerful entities to no longer do business with those jurisdictions until such time as they start acting responsibly. Moving events is only one step we can take. I’m sure Richmond would be happy to host the Panthers and Portland would be glad to have the Dolphins or Texans move there. We can see if the Texas Rangers would welcome a move to somewhat more responsible North Carolina together with a new name. If companies get more assistance to build that new corporate headquarters or call center or delivery hub in New York or California or Massachusetts instead of Alabama or Indiana or Texas, I’m sure they’ll grab it, and I’m completely within my authority to decide which states get Federal money to upgrade their roads, bridges and other infrastructure first, or if they get it at all.

      Some presidents end these addresses by saying “God Bless America” or some other patriotic gesture. Instead of doing that, I’d like you all to join me in the following acknowledgement, which will be put on screen for those of you watching from home.

      We, the officials of this government, hereby acknowledge that this the land we live, work, and do business on is the original homelands of the Piscataway and Nacotchtank tribal nations. We further acknowledge that this entire nation stands on the lands of the various native tribes, including the Inuit and native Hawaiians. We acknowledge the painful history of genocide and forced removal, and we honor and respect the many diverse Indigenous peoples still connected to this land on which we gather.

      We further acknowledge that this nation was built on the backs of African-Americans, taken from their homes by force, and sold into slavery. We acknowledge the painful history of racism and we pledge to do better each day going forward. Their cause is our case.

      Thank you and good night.

      • I’m pretty sure it won’t sound anywhere near this coherent. You need to toss in a couple “End of quote”s, some gibberish, some fake huge numbers, some “I once spent 10 years as a lumberjack in Antarctica” style digressions, and maybe a “let’s go Brandon” or two.

    • That looks brilliant to me. It deconstructs the hypocrisy without going over the top. I’d like to see how Democrats react to this level 1 apology written for them. Some might employ rationalizations like 31. The Troublesome Luxury, but I think some might realize that it’s all true and they need to take responsibility for it.

  2. https://www.reuters.com/world/us/colorado-governor-lowers-110-year-sentence-truck-driver-vehicular-homicide-case-2021-12-30/

    Summary. This guy plowed in a semi through stopped traffic on I-70 killing four, wounding dozens and damaging a bridge due to fire. The brakes failed and he didn’t use the runaway truck ramps. Jury convicted. Petition was created. Governor reduced sentence because of it.
    1. The laws can’t be used when it’s convenient.
    2. I’m sure every single drunk driver didn’t mean to kill that person either.
    3. There has been a lot of uncertainty lately with the “rules”. I think we’re close to a tipping point where we go back to a crueler, more certain version of rules because I’m upset on principle. I didn’t even have any injuries, lose a loved one or have to deal with the broken bridge he caused. Now they think it’s unfair? The rules are too harsh? Change the rules then. Don’t be like “just this one time”. This is some sort of version of Kings Pass.
    Why does he deserve compassion and sympathy when the others do not? The “he couldn’t read English” argument is flimsy at best. (And another topic as to if a CDL should be given to someone who can not read English road signs.) They have pictures also to point the way to the runaway truck ramps. This was negligence. Just like drunk drivers are. Just like a misfired gun is, and it harmed more people. Never mind the seriously injured he created by this act. Was 110 years a little much? Perhaps, but that’s the law. If you don’t like it, change the law.

    • Demeter,
      I mostly agree with you, except for one aspect:
      “If you don’t like it [the law], change the law.”
      The law permits the governor to reduce the sentence, which he did. I agree that the reduction was excessive. Personally, I thought thirty years would have been appropriate. He would probably have served only ten to fifteen years and be out before he was an old man. (I’m basing this on average time served in my state for a thirty-year sentence for this type of crime.)

  3. A little end of year humor:’

    Mrs. OB this morning as she opened up her phone: “Sometimes I think google is a little too smart.”

    “Why’s that?”

    “My google feed has directed me to the five best oven cleaners of 2021. How do they know?”

    Happy New Year to all the Marshalls and the commentariat, active and inactive.

  4. So… Eric Clapton has successfully sued a German woman for offering a bootleg CD on eBay for €9.95 (roughly $11). She will now have to pay court costs of about $4000 and is subject to a fine of €250,000 or a 6-month prison sentence if she continues to try to sell the recording. (I suspect she’ll decide to keep the damned thing… interesting that she doesn’t seem to be obligated to destroy it.)
    All this despite the fact that the CD was bought by her now-deceased husband (not her) at a department store (not from somebody’s trunk) some 30 years ago (!) and she didn’t know it was a bootleg… apparently these assertions were all stipulated but regarded as immaterial.
    I won’t pretend to understand copyright/trademark law, especially the German version thereof, so I won’t get into the decision per se, but it strikes me that the German equivalent of a cease and desist order would have been more than sufficient. My response, irrespective of the need to protect copyright/trademark or lose it, is along the lines of “Dude, why do you have to be an asshole about this?”
    Other perspectives welcome.

    • If the CD was purchased at a department store then it seems to me the department store ought to be liable, not the purchaser. I don’t understand why they are suing individual resellers of used merchandise unless it is simply to make a point and stop people from reselling all of their music due to fear. At this point, most people do not even purchase hard copies of music, preferring digital copies that can be used on modern devices. The whole thing seems a bit pointless and malicious to me. Maybe Clapton is broke and really needed that $4000, but it seems like the negative PR would cost him more than that down the road.

  5. This story may have already been covered here at EA, but it is yet another example of gross media bias:

    Was working with someone remotely when, during a break, they announced that a Fox contributor is openly advocating for the assassination of Dr. Fauci with the quote being something like “someone should ambush him and go for the kill shot”. This was all covered by CNN during an interview with Dr. Fauci to get his opinion on the threat (of course he replied that such a threat was terrible). I replied sceptically and said that we really need to hear the full context of the quote.

    My co-worker then searched for the full recording of the Fox contributor’s speech, which was not easy to find. After listening to a minute or two of it, it became clear that the so-called threat was entirely taken out context and that the Fox contributor was advocating asking Dr. Fauci tough questions (with the “kill shot” being questions about funding for “gain of function” research, if I remember correctly).

    I avoid CNN like the plague, so I didn’t realise just how bad things had gotten over there. Hopefully, my co-worker now trusts them a little less too.

  6. Hope everyone had a good Christmas!

    When spending Christmas with my parents and sister, my father told us an interesting story about his missionary service, I figured the ethical issues involved made it worth sharing here.

    He’d been serving down in South America, and his mission area crossed through several different countries. At the end of his mission he was getting ready go home from Venezuela. Somehow, his passport with all of his stamps had been lost. The mission home was supposed to mail it to him about two months prior, but either it got stolen from the mail, or the mission home had misplaced it. So for a while my father was, in his own words, an illegal immigrant. The mission home sent him a new passport, which he took to the airport where he was to depart for home. The person running customs refused to give him his exit stamp, because he was apparently supposed to have his entrance stamp before he could be approved to leave. My father explained the situation, but the guy refused to budge. One of the assistants to the mission president was there, and Dad told him something like the following: “I’ve done everything I’m supposed to do, you guys were supposed to have my passport, you need to fix this. Either get me on this plane, or call my folks and explain why I’m not coming home just yet”. The assistant was basically at a loss. Dad then got the impression that the guy at the booth would take a bribe. He told the assistant this, and the assistant went up the booth, paid the bribe, my father got his clearance to exit, and was able to catch the plane home.

    When I first heard this story my knee-jerk response was that paying the bribe was unethical, especially for a missionary. But going over the details, I’m thinking differently now. What say the rest of you?

    • Personally, I go by a “when in Rome…” approach when visiting other countries. Yes, this is the “every body does it” rationalisation, but I don’t think we can transplant our rich world ethics rigidly to developing countries (good luck getting anything done in Vietnam without some “tips”).

      Some random anecdotes:

      Brother visiting Peru: Everybody speeds dangerously on the roads. Why? So the police won’t bother chasing them and demanding a bribe — it would take too much gas for them to do so.

      Co-worker in Fiji: Called the police to report a crime. Reply? We can send a patrol car but you’ll need to pay for the gas.

  7. One of the forums that I’m a part of, the forum owner has discussed frustration with her family. The issue is that her father is in hospital with a potentially life threatening condition. Nobody knows whether he’ll make it through. The family wants her to visit her father. She is refusing because most of them don’t consider the Wuhan virus as a serious threat, haven’t gotten vaccinated (or is inoculated the better word?) against it. Even though she has gotten a vaccine/inoculation against it, she refuses to see her father because of those reasons. Additionally, she lives with her brother, who apparently has some kind of immunocompromised condition. She believes that she could get the Wuhan virus from her cavalier family, infect her brother, and kill him, if she goes to see her father.

    Everyone else on the forum seems to be on her side, but I think she should see her father. I just don’t think I can say it in such a way that won’t get me kicked out of the forum. Should I say nothing, since it’s not my family and her concerns are important to her (even if I disagree with her assessment), or should I try to persuade her to visit her father despite her concerns?

    • From what I’ve read, and heard from my nurse sister, she still could catch the virus despite being vaccinated. The risk is minimized, but not completely eliminated. If she didn’t have her immuno deficient brother to worry about, it would be less of a concern, but I can understand her worry.

  8. I have known about G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936) for a long time, as a brilliant British philosopher and social critic (and the author of the witty and wry and silly “Father Brown” stories – though obviously not of the TV version), but I never bothered to actually read him. I admit that it was only recent chance and a cheap Kindle book that finally allowed me to do so.

    The first chapter of his 1910 book “What’s Wrong With The World” was a ‘bright-light’ experience for me. Though hopelessly outdated in some 21st century factual respects, it is interesting because Chesterton takes the time to examine the thought process and how it affects the outcomes of different kinds of thinking, reminiscent of the “observer effect.” (Though he was, in 1910, much more trusting of science and medicine than we are now, e.g., and did not address 21st century thought process issues like the scientists’ dilemma about doing something simply because they can, without considering if they should.)

    Herewith a short sample of G.K. Chesterton’s “What’s Wrong With The World,” now in the public domain in the US and considered to be one of his more interesting works. (So why did I pay anything at all for the book when I could have downloaded it for free? Because I wouldn’t have thought that day to google him or it and so have had this happy accident.) If you check the internet today you will find articles as recent as Christmas Eve 2021 about GKC and Santa Claus… Final note: succeeding chapters are just as fun.

    “A book of modern social inquiry has a shape that is somewhat sharply defined. It begins as a rule with an analysis, with statistics, tables of population, decrease of crime among Congregationalists, growth of hysteria among policemen, and similar ascertained facts; it ends with a chapter that is generally called “The Remedy.” It is almost wholly due to this careful, solid, and scientific method that “The Remedy” is never found. For this scheme of medical question and answer is a blunder; the first great blunder of sociology. It is always called stating the disease before we find the cure. But it is the whole definition and dignity of man that in social matters we must actually find the cure before we find the disease.

    “The fallacy is one of the fifty fallacies that come from the modern madness for biological or bodily metaphors. It is convenient to speak of the Social Organism, just as it is convenient to speak of the British Lion. But Britain is no more an organism than Britain is a lion. The moment we begin to give a nation the unity and simplicity of an animal, we begin to think wildly. Because every man is a biped, fifty men are not a centipede. This has produced, for instance, the gaping absurdity of perpetually talking about “young nations” and “dying nations,” as if a nation had a fixed and physical span of life.

    “Thus people will say that Spain has entered a final senility; they might as well say that Spain is losing all her teeth. Or people will say that Canada should soon produce a literature; which is like saying that Canada must soon grow a new moustache. Nations consist of people; the first generation may be decrepit, or the ten thousandth may be vigorous. Similar applications of the fallacy are made by those who see in the increasing size of national possessions, a simple increase in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man. These people, indeed, even fall short in subtlety of the parallel of a human body. They do not even ask whether an empire is growing taller in its youth, or only growing fatter in its old age. But of all the instances of error arising from this physical fancy, the worst is that we have before us: the habit of exhaustively describing a social sickness, and then propounding a social drug.
    Now we do talk first about the disease in cases of bodily breakdown; and that for an excellent reason.

    “Because, though there may be doubt about the way in which the body broke down, there is no doubt at all about the shape in which it should be built up again. No doctor proposes to produce a new kind of man, with a new arrangement of eyes or limbs. The hospital, by necessity, may send a man home with one leg less: but it will not (in a creative rapture) send him home with one leg extra. Medical science is content with the normal human body, and only seeks to restore it.

    “But social science is by no means always content with the normal human soul; it has all sorts of fancy souls for sale. Man as a social idealist will say “I am tired of being a Puritan; I want to be a Pagan,” or “Beyond this dark probation of Individualism I see the shining paradise of Collectivism.” Now in bodily ills there is none of this difference about the ultimate ideal. The patient may or may not want quinine; but he certainly wants health. No one says “I am tired of this headache; I want some toothache,” or “The only thing for this Russian influenza is a few German measles,” or “Through this dark probation of catarrh I see the shining paradise of rheumatism.” But exactly the whole difficulty in our public problems is that some men are aiming at cures which other men would regard as worse maladies; are offering ultimate conditions as states of health which others would uncompromisingly call states of disease. Mr. Belloc once said that he would no more part with the idea of property than with his teeth; yet to Mr. Bernard Shaw property is not a tooth, but a toothache. Lord Milner has sincerely attempted to introduce German efficiency; and many of us would as soon welcome German measles. Dr. Saleeby would honestly like to have Eugenics; but I would rather have rheumatics.

    “This is the arresting and dominant fact about modern social discussion; that the quarrel is not merely about the difficulties, but about the aim. We agree about the evil; it is about the good that we should tear each other’s eyes out. We all admit that a lazy aristocracy is a bad thing. We should not by any means all admit that an active aristocracy would be a good thing. We all feel angry with an irreligious priesthood; but some of us would go mad with disgust at a really religious one. Everyone is indignant if our army is weak, including the people who would be even more indignant if it were strong.

    “The social case is exactly the opposite of the medical case. We do not disagree, like doctors, about the precise nature of the illness, while agreeing about the nature of health. On the contrary, we all agree that England is unhealthy, but half of us would not look at her in what the other half would call blooming health. Public abuses are so prominent and pestilent that they sweep all generous people into a sort of fictitious unanimity. We forget that, while we agree about the abuses of things, we should differ very much about the uses of them. Mr. Cadbury and I would agree about the bad public house. It would be precisely in front of the good public-house that our painful personal fracas would occur.

    “I maintain, therefore, that the common sociological method is quite useless: that of first dissecting abject poverty or cataloguing prostitution. We all dislike abject poverty; but it might be another business if we began to discuss independent and dignified poverty. We all disapprove of prostitution; but we do not all approve of purity. The only way to discuss the social evil is to get at once to the social ideal. We can all see the national madness; but what is national sanity? I have called this book “What Is Wrong with the World?” and the upshot of the title can be easily and clearly stated. What is wrong is that we do not ask what is right.”

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