Well, we all know by now why this date is important: On January 6, 1838, Samuel Morse’s telegraph system was demonstrated for the first time at the Speedwell Iron Works in Morristown, New Jersey. Morse’s invention revolutionized long-distance communication, and also was a catalyst for other important inventions. In ethics history, January 6, 1994 marked the nadir of bad sportsmanship in U.S. sports.
Skater Tonya Harding conspired with her ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly, to eliminate rival skater Nancy Kerrigan from the competition for the U.S. ice skating championship. Through contacts, Gillooly persuaded Shane Stant to injure Kerrigan for a fee. Stant stalked to Massachusetts and Detroit, where he hit the skater in the leg with a club and fled. Kerrigan was unable to skate, so Harding won the championship and a place at on the 1994 Olympics women’s skating team. Then the plot fell apart, and the FBI got the whole story from Stant. Gillooly was charged with conspiracy to assault Kerrigan, and made a deal in which he implicated Harding. She claimed she had learned of Gillooly’s role in the attack after the U.S. championships but did not inform authorities. It took a lawsuit to stop the United States Olympic Committee from removing Harding from the team, but Tonya choked and finished 8th, and Kerrigan won a silver medal. Eventually Harding pleaded guilty to conspiracy to hinder the prosecution of Kerrigan’s attackers, but her role in initiating the plot was never proved. Gillooly, a real prince of a guy, cashed in by selling graphic photos of the couple having sex to tabloids. There’s more seedy stuff to this story, but that’s enough.
1. I see the Pope has nothing better to do than to attack dog and cat owners as being “selfish” for preferring to have pets to bestow their love on than children. Having children is indeed a generous act, provided it is done intentionally and responsibly by people with the sense, resources and values to discharge that immense challenge ethically. I know quite a few childless pet owners who seem to have concluded that a dog or cat was all they could handle, and in mots of these cases, I’d say they made the right call. I also know some families with kids that I wouldn’t trust to care for a kitten. Or a guppy.
During a general audience at the Vatican, Pope Francis said,
“Today … we see a form of selfishness. We see that some people do not want to have a child. Sometimes they have one, and that’s it, but they have dogs and cats that take the place of children. This may make people laugh but it is a reality…a denial of fatherhood and motherhood and diminishes us, takes away our humanity… civilization grows old without humanity because we lose the richness of fatherhood and motherhood, and it is the country that suffers…Having a child is always a risk, but there is more risk in not having a child.”
If there is one thing a Pope, a bishop or a Catholic priest isn’t qualified to talk about, it is having children. Pius XII had a pet goldfinch though, and Pope Leo XIII kept a herd of gazelles, among other animals.
2. Regarding that other Jan.6 event…as part of its Capitol riot spin today, the Times enlisted Linda Qiu, a former “fact-checker” for PolitiFact, the infamously left-biased fact-checking service of the Tampa Bay Times, to debunk “falsehoods” regarding the attack. She performed as expected. Trump said on Fox News that there were “no guns” carried by the mob. There have been three gun charges brought against rioters, Qiu says. She also says that “over 75 defendants have been charged with entering a restricted area with a dangerous or deadly weapon,” meaning clubs, sticks and bear spray, none of which relates to Trump’s gun claim. She also calls a “falsehood” the statement that there were no fatalities during the riot except for Ashlii Babbitt, the unarmed rioter who was shot by a Capitol police officers. Seven fatalities were “tied” to the assault, she says. What does “tied” mean? Other than Babbitt, two protesters died of heart attacks, one of an accidental overdose, Officer Sicknick died of multiple strokes a day after the attack (and was falsely reported by the times as dying from injuries sustained in the riot, a falsehood repeated multiple times by President Biden). Two other officers killed themselves in the days after the riot, which does not establish causation or a provable “tie,” and two other officers died by suicide six months later.
I’d say “no fatalities” other than the unarmed rioter is accurate.
Then Qui really goes to work trying to disprove “misleading” comparisons between the George Floyd riots and January 6. She begins with a dubious appeal to authority: “One of the things we’ve learned from the Capitol arrests is that there was a small but sizable core of folks who planned what I would describe as lethal violence or attempts at lethal violence. There was no such intent in the Floyd protests,” Michael Loadenthal, the executive director of the Prosecution Project, is quoted as saying. Qui doesn’t bother to mention the 25 people who died in the Floyd-related protests, nor has anyone tallied subsequent deaths or suicides that occurred from unrelated causes days or months later. Then there is this risible deceit:
More than 17,000 people were arrested in connection to the racial justice protests, according to a tally by The Washington Post. Out of some 2,600 arrests with details about the charge or protester, 582, or about 22 percent, were charged with crimes related to violence or the threat of violence. In other words, 1 in about 4,400 committed a violent crime, assuming the same crime rate across the entire arrestee population.
In comparison, crowd experts and officials have estimated that up to 10,000 people entered the Capitol grounds. Out of the more than 729 arrested so far, 176, or about a quarter, have been charged with crimes related to violence. In other words, at least 1 in 56 committed a violent crime.
How could Times editors let her get away with that? The whole substance of complaints about the political bias in the Capitol riot arrests and prosecution is the relative lack of action taken against the George Floyd rioters, so the numbers are apples and oranges. Moreover, being charged with a crime does not equate to having committed a crime.
3. Accountability watch. No one can figure out how Virginia could have mishandled the 1-95 jam this week so completely, leaving drivers stuck in the cars in freezing weather for almost 24 hours. No National Guard? No plowed lanes for escape? Outgoing Virginia Governor Ralph Northam knows where the blame lies, though: it’s all the drivers’ fault:
While expressing sympathy for stranded motorists, Northam said more should have heeded warnings to stay off the roads.
“We gave warnings, and people need to pay attention to these warnings, and the less people that are on the highways when these storms hit, the better,” he said. “I feel for these people that are stranded but just want to let them know we’re doing everything we can to get to them in a very challenging situation.”
4. From the Ethics Alarms “When all you have is a hammer…” files: A group of nine black mountain climbers called the Full Circle Everest Expedition will try to climb Mt. Everest this year to expose the racism and “colonial history” embedded in mountaineering. Only one black American has ever reached the summit of Everest, but the groups aims to “change the narrative” about black mountaineers. “I hear ‘black people don’t do that,’ all the time when I talk about my climbing,” one member of the team, 28-year-old Rosemary Saal, told the Washington Post. “That only perpetuates the stereotypes. It’s important to change the narrative.”
Wow. That will be some accomplishment. I know when I think about systemic racism and its effects, the dearth of black mountaineers who have climbed Mt. Everest immediately leaps to mind.
The average cost of climbing the mountain is around $45,000, but it can be higher. If the objective is to do something constructive for blacks in America, there may be a more wasteful use of about $400,000, but I can’t think of one right now.
5. Welcome to my world...I chose not to allow this comment to be posted (there was also a second one by the same critic of equal quality:
YOU NO RIGHT TO SATY THAT AMERICAN FLAG BURNING HIPPY YOU SUPORTED A MAN WANTS TO KILL AMERIACAS FREEDOMS HE DONE NOTHING TO END COIV ARE THIS RETRTED TO NOT SEE THIS DO YOU EVEN A FUCKING BRAIN. GOD THIS COUNTRY SO FULL OF RETARDS.