Evening Ethics Illumination, 1/9/22: “Mister We Could Use A Man Like Thomas Paine Again…”

On this date in 1776, writer Thomas Paine published his pamphlet “Common Sense,” making his arguments in favor of American independence from England, thereby uniting a scattering of dissatisfaction into a movement. Only a few publications in our history have had such a profound effect on public opinion; another was “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.” Paine’s most ringing assertion may have been this one:

“Europe, and not England, is the parent country of America.  This new world hath been the asylum for the persecuted lovers of civil and religious liberty from every part of Europe.  Hither they have fled, not from the tender embraces of the mother, but from the cruelty of the monster; and it is so far true of England, that the same tyranny which drove the first emigrants from home, pursues their descendants still.”

Common sense today is in short supply. A sharp, clear explication and reaffirmation of core American values without the tarnish of partisan politics would be a godsend. But among a public in which a minority could even identify who Thomas Paine was, who would understand it?

1. I wonder if it’s even necessary to finish the post on the hypocrisy of Democratic propaganda about a threat to democracy when this kind of thing keeps happening…GovernorJay Inslee of Washington state called on lawmakers to pass legislation making it a gross misdemeanor for some to “spread lies”about election results. Naturally, he called this suppression of opinion and free speech necessary to protect democracy. Inslee spoke against what he called “a continuing coup” by former President Donald Trump. Wait, don’t we need a law criminalizing false claims of “coups”?

Part of the Democratic strategy to keep power is to use the criminal system to muzzle opinions and positions it doesn’t like. Robert Kennedy Jr. wants to punish “climate change deniers.” Many progressives want to punish vaccine skeptics (a group that includes Robert Kennedy Jr.!), and Democratic allies in social media and Big Tech have been increasingly brazen about banning conservatives, replacing the “more speech” remedy the Bill of Rights set out for dubious opinions with “no speech.”

Would it be fair to conclude that Inslee is an ignoramus? Not only have state laws making it a crime for a candidate for office to lie been declared unconstitutional (because they are,) the Supreme Court case U.S. v. Alvarez,  struck down the Stolen Valor Act, protecting a man who falsely claimed that he had received the Medal of Honor, declared that lying speech was still protected speech. Then there’s the little problem of deciding what is a lie and what is just dumb opinion, like, say, suggesting that a state could ban lying about elections.

If Inslee isn’t ignorant about his nation’s Constitution, then he is grandstanding, equating opinions with crimes to rile up the under-educated and the nascent totalitarians who his party has been courting for so long.

2. Speaking of censorship of “lies”…San Diego’s Warren Distinguished Professor of Law Larry Alexander had his scholarly article rejected by the Emory Law Journal precisely because he dared to question the current progressive cant  of systemic racism. Editor-in-Chief Danielle Kerker ( a student, and thus thoroughly marinated in progressive orthodoxy) sent an ultimatum to the professor: he had to greatly revise the essay or have it “cancelled”:

We take issue with your conversation on systemic racism, finding your words hurtful and unnecessarily divisive. Additionally, there are various instances of insensitive language use throughout the essay (e.g., widespread use of the objectifying term “blacks” and “the blacks” (pages 2, 3, 6, 8, etc.); the discussions on criminality and heredity (pages 11 and 14), the uncited statement that thankfully racism is not an issue today (page 18))…We would welcome a manuscript revised along the lines we have suggested, but, absent those revisions, ELJ will not publish this contribution…

No weenie he, Alexander refused to grovel or submit, and his article was rejected.  His crime, it seems, was to opine (as many other scholars have, such as black Brown University professor Glenn Loury,who wrote an essay called “Unspeakable truths about racial inequality in America” that made many of the same points Alexander did) that the problems of the black community in the U.S. today were rooted in cultural and behavioral pathologies and not “systemic racism.”

Some legal scholars are pulling their submissions from the Emory Journal to protest Alexander’s treatment and the assault on academic freedom. Good.

3. Bias makes the Supreme Court stupid too. The three left-leaning Justices on the Supreme Court picked a bad time to let their pro-Biden administration biases run amuck, just as their favorite party was accusing conservatives on the Court of being untrustworthy. during the oral argument over the Biden Administration’s vaccine mandate, Justice Sotomayor, whose specialty is “feelz” rather than facts or law, actually said, “We have over 100,000 children, which we have never had before, in serious condition, and many on ventilators.” This wasfalse, as fact checks by Politifact, and Reason pointed out. The Washington Post’s “factchecker” Glenn Kessler gave her 4 Pinocchios, writing

That’s wildly incorrect, assuming she is referring to hospitalizations, given the reference to ventilators. According to HHS data, as of Jan. 8 there are about 5,000 children hospitalized in a pediatric bed, either with suspected covid or a confirmed laboratory test. This figure includes patients in observation beds. So Sotomayor’s number is at least 20 times higher than reality, even before you determine how many are in “serious condition.”

Justice Stephen Breyer, meanwhile claimed the US experienced 750 million new cases just the day before! ARRRRRGHHH! That’s double the US population!

Of course, he misspoke, but SCOTUS justices aren’t supposed to join in fearmongering campaigns.

Defenders of the Biden dictates and the Supreme Court’s Left quickly contrived an alleged misstatement about the pandemic by conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch, claiming that he had stated that the flu killed “hundreds of thousands” of people a year when the actual figure is below 50,000. However, reviews of the recorded oral arguments showed that he really said “hundreds or thousands.”

Watch out: a lie like that might be illegal in Washington soon…

4. Stay classy, Washington Post! Special rules for Donald Trump are still in force, apparently, like the one that allows ad hominem personal insults in straight news stories. Here’s an actual headline from today: “Biden faces delays in undoing Trump’s war on efficient dishwashers, dryers and lightbulbs that made him ‘look orange’”

 

16 thoughts on “Evening Ethics Illumination, 1/9/22: “Mister We Could Use A Man Like Thomas Paine Again…”

  1. I’ve always loved the theme song “Those Were the Days.” I found it heartfelt and genuine. I guess I was supposed to sneer at Archie and the Dingbat.

    I see Norman Lear flew 52 missions as a radio operator in B-17s. I think I’ll give him some slack even though I despise his standard issue, knee jerk lefty politics. “The Jeffersons” was hilarious. I’d rank George Jefferson right up there with Archie Bunker as one of the great characters of TV history. And Weezy was no slouch her own self. And “Movin’ on Up” was a GREAT theme song as well.

    • It was only sung by then because they ran out of money before they could record a theme song so they had to do it on a shoestring. Yep, you’ve got it exactly right. You were supposed to sneer at Archie the bigot and his stupid wife who if she had any brains would have divorced him long ago. In the meantime, Meathead stood in for all the correct-thinking, up and coming young folks so we’re going to push the greatest generation off the board and lead the US to a brand new lefty paradise. Occasionally they would throw in some moments to make the characters seem a little more human, like Archie realizing his daughter and grandson were essentially gone from his life after they left for CA in an age with no email, no faxes, and long distance phone calls being ridiculously expensive, but the next episode he’d be right back to being the blustering, hard-hat bigot that those hip urban audiences were supposed to laugh at and say “what an idiot.”

      You know the rest, spinning off limousine liberal cousin Maude into her own series (which a lot of guys only watched to look at Adrienne Barbeau’s breasts) where she aborted a child (thought she was too old to have a baby) and was told she was doing the right thing, then spinning maid Florida Evans off into her own series “Good Times,” where nothing ever went right and the actors themselves hated but they were doing, etc, etc.

      I really don’t care if Norman Lear was a World War II vet. He wrote Archie as a WW2 vet who never accomplished much while fighting in the war, because if he had been some kind of hero he would have been entitled to some level of respect. That shows he himself didn’t respect his own service.

      I was raised to respect the veterans, especially the World War II veterans. I regularly attend the Veterans Day parade in New York and World War II weekend at Reading Airfield in Pennsylvania. I believe it is important that we learn these veterans’ stories, because there are still huge numbers left untold, and the time grows near when the last of these veterans will be leaving us. If their stories remain untold, then when they leave this world, their stories leave with them.
      At the first New York Air show in 2015, there were three or four World War II veterans in attendance, and, as one of the staff members was moving them around on a golf cart, since they almost all have mobility issues,
      he called out “World War II veterans coming through!” And the crowd not only parted, but spontaneously began to applaud. No One respects the greatest generation more than me. However, Howard Zinn was a WW2 vet. Philip Berrigan was a WW2 vet. George Zabelka was chaplain to the 509th Composite Group. Just because you served in a war doesn’t give you a pass on being an idiot or a kook.

  2. GovernorJay Inslee of Washington state called on lawmakers to pass legislation making it a gross misdemeanor for some to “spread lies”about election results. Naturally, he called this suppression of opinion and free speech necessary to protect democracy. Inslee spoke against what he called “a continuing coup” by former President Donald Trump. Wait, don’t we need a law criminalizing false claims of “coups”?

    Why did it occur to him that this was a good idea, instead of something that would be resoundingly rejected?

  3. Jack asked, 1. I wonder if it’s even necessary to finish the post on the hypocrisy of Democratic propaganda about a threat to democracy…”

    Yes please finish it!

    You can add this to the Ethics Alarms suggestion box;
    Since this is not limited to the political left politicians and it’s a regular problem with politicians across the USA, I also think you could make it a little more generic, as in not specific to any particular party, so it could become a useful regular Ethics Alarms piece. Ethics Alarms readers could submit links to National, State and local politicians on both sides of the political aisle in their area that use the “It Isn’t What it is” and you could highlight the most egregious politicians using the unethical rationalization. You could make it a monthly or quarterly entry and you could title it something like…

    January Edition: Will the “It Isn’t What it is” Propaganda Assault By American Politicians Succeed?

  4. “If Inslee isn’t ignorant about his nation’s Constitution, then he is grandstanding…”

    Why can’t he be ignorant *and* grandstanding? Those two qualities go hand-in-hand quite often.

    Sadly, ignorance of the broad outlines of the Constitution, never mind the details, is now the default among elected officials. Constitution-literate politicians are incredibly rare.

    I’ll bet less than 50% of the members of Congress could even name three of the ten amendments in the Bill of Rights, never mind understand them.

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